Representing the EU internationally, proposing and enforcing EU law and managing the EU’s finances makes the European Commission one of the main institutions of the European Union.
The Commission consists of 28 Commissioners, one of each EU country. The President is nominated by the European Council. In agreement with him, the European Council also appoints the other Commissioners for a 5-years-term. The President delegates responsibility for a certain policy area to each Commissioner.
All Commissioners – including the President –have to be approved by the Parliament.
Furthermore, a staff of lawyers, economists, administrators, translators, secretarial staff, etc. forms the Directorates-General, which deals with the everyday tasks of the Commission.
Holding the ‘right of initiative’ the Commission can propose new laws on EU level on subjects which cannot be effectively managed on local, regional or national level (‘subsidiarity principle’).
During the decision-making process, expert groups and committees are consulted.
Only when 50% of the Commissioners agree on the proposed law, it will be sent to the Council and Parliament – it is eventually them who decides, whether the new law will be adopted or not.
Enforcing European law
Being the ‘guardian of the Treaties’, it is the Commission’s task to check that each member country is adopting EU law properly.
If a member state failing to apply EU law does not react to the Commission’s official request to correct the problem, the Court of Justice can impose penalties.
Managing the EU’s finances
One of the Commission’s main tasks is to maintain the EU’s budget and funds. Working together with the Council and the Parliament, the Commission is creating a long-term priority plan concerning the EU ‘financial framework’. Agencies, regional and national authorities are set up to supervise how EU funds are spent. The Court of Auditors checks on the Commission’s budget management.
International representation of the EU
The Commission represents all EU member states in international bodies and negotiates international agreements for the European Union.
Besides the headquarters in Brussels and Luxembourg, the Commission has representative offices in every EU member state and delegations in capital cities all over the world.
Connection between me as a EU-citizen and the
- I have the right to obtain access to agenda and report of meetings and discussion of the European Commission
- I have the right to contact any EU-institution and to receive an answer (in any official language of the EU member states)
- I can obtain access to documents of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council under certain circumstances
- I can summon the European Commission to propose a legislative act
- I can create a citizen initiatives à Commission hast to publicize a formal answer including reasons for their decision in every official language of the European Union
- I have the right to receive information and consultation
- I can fight for a stronger legitimacy of the European Commission