The European CommissionMay 1, 2018
It proposes actions or legislative texts and, after a decision by the Council of the European Union, ensures that they are properly implemented. It acts under precise mandates given by the Member States and under the control of the European Parliament.
It is composed of 20 Commissioners, including two for France, assisted by Directorates-General with administrative and technical competence. Each Commissioner is responsible for one or more sectors (agriculture, research, education, etc.) for five years.
Within the framework of the broad guidelines set by the European Council, the European Commission prepares and implements the decisions of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.
The Commission’s tasks vary according to the areas of competence of the European Union: Community policies (free movement of goods, persons, services, capital, agriculture, employment, economic and monetary policy, social policy, etc.), common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The Commission’s tasks are increasing as the competences of the European Union are extended. The Treaty of Amsterdam, for example, included employment and visa, asylum and immigration policy within Community competences.
Guardian of treaties
The Commission shall ensure that the provisions of the Treaties and those adopted under them are applied. If the Commission considers that a Member State has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaties, it may issue a reasoned opinion and, if the State fails to comply, it may bring the matter before the Court of Justice of the European Communities. The Commission ensures the application of competition and state aid rules and can take decisions imposing fines on infringing companies. They may be the subject of an appeal before the Court of First Instance.
Right of initiative
Within the framework of Community policies, the Commission participates in the formation of acts of the Council and the European Parliament in accordance with the various procedures established by the Treaties. It is the Commission that presents a proposal for a text to the European Parliament and the Council.
Under the provisions on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, the Commission shares the power of initiative with the Member States. Within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the Council may request the Commission to submit any appropriate proposal.
Formulation of recommendations and opinions
The Commission may formulate recommendations and opinions within the framework of Community and CFSP policies.
Execution of policies
In implementing Community policies, the Commission shall exercise the powers conferred on it by the Council for the implementation of Community rules. Under the CFSP, the Commission is involved in the implementation of decisions.
Negotiation of international agreements
In the case of trade negotiations with third countries or international organisations, the Council authorises the Commission to open the necessary negotiations. These shall be conducted by the Commission within the framework of such directives as the Council may issue to it. For other agreements, in particular accession agreements, the Commission’s negotiating role is enshrined in practice.
Implementation of the budget The Commission shall implement the budget on its own responsibility, within the limits of the appropriations allocated and in accordance with the principle of sound financial management.
Operation and organization
The Commission is composed of 20 members, called European Commissioners. Appointed for 5 years, they are chosen because of their general skills. Since the Nice Summit (7/10 December 2002), the President has been appointed by the Council of the European Union by a qualified majority after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament. Then, by common agreement with the President-designate, they appoint the other members of the Commission. The President and the Members of the Commission are then submitted as a college to a vote of approval by the European Parliament.
The Members of the Commission shall be completely independent in the performance of their duties, in the general interest of the European Union. The Commission shall fulfil its mission in accordance with the political guidelines laid down by its President. The Commission must include at least one member having the nationality of each of the Member States and must not include more than two.
However, on the date of the next enlargement of the EU, it is foreseen that the Commission will consist of one national from each of the Member States. The maximum number of Commissioners will be 27 and an equal rotation system will be introduced. Thus, the “big states” (France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain and Italy) will lose their second commissioner in 2005.
Following the collective resignation of the Commission, the Heads of State or Government meeting in Berlin asked the Italian Romano Prodi to form a new Commission in accordance with the procedures laid down in the Treaty of Amsterdam. The appointment of the new European Commission was approved by the European Parliament on 15 September 1999. His term will end on 22 January 2005.
With 15 000 staff, the Commission is the Union’s largest institution: 20% of staff work in translation and interpretation services and 80% work in Directorates-General (DGs) and decentralised services. The Commission has representations in the Member States and delegations in third countries.
Control by the European Commission
In addition to the process for appointing the Commission, the European Parliament may adopt a motion of censure by a two-thirds majority of votes and a majority of its component Members. If the motion of censure is adopted, the members of the Commission must collectively abandon their function.
It was following the report of a committee of independent experts called the Committee of Wise Men that the Commission collectively resigned, for the first time in its history, on 16 March 1999.
On the one hand, the Court of Auditors examines the accounts of all Community revenue and expenditure and provides the European Parliament and the Council with a statement of assurance as to the reliability of the accounts.
On the other hand, the European Parliament, on a recommendation from the Council, gives discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget. To this end, it examines the accounts and the balance sheet, the annual report of the Court of Auditors, the statement of assurance…