The European Commission (in French, Commission européenne) “promotes the general interest of the Union and takes appropriate initiatives to that end” (art. 17 TEU), it is the Executive body of the European Union and is in charge for implementing the decisions of the Parliament and the Council.
It is currently composed of 27 members states (as well as a Chairman and two Vice Presidents), appointed by mutual agreement), representing the governments of each Member State for a period of 5 years. Beginning on 1 November 2014, the composition will be profoundly modified.
Indeed, the Treaty of Lisbon establishes a number of members corresponding to two thirds of the Member States (unless the European Council, acting unanimously, decides otherwise).
The Members will be chosen according to a rotation system in order to ensure absolute equality between the Member States with respect to the determination of, and the time spent by their national within the Commission. Under no circumstances may the Commission include two Members of the same nationality (art. 244 TFEU).
As a matter of fact, the European Council in December 2008, as an exception to this rule, planned to adopt a decision whereby the Commission will continue to include one national from each Member after 2014.
The appointment of the President of the Commission is proposed by the EU Council, acting by a qualified majority, and is then approved by the Parliament.
The Treaty of Lisbon, however, has introduced a direct link between the results of the European elections and the choice of the candidate as president of the Commission, as the Council should consider the results of the elections to propose to the Parliament a candidate for that office.
The President-designate, in agreement with the Member States governments, chooses the other members of the Commission; the Council adopts by qualified majority the list of candidates and shall inform the European Parliament for approval of each candidate. The President, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and other members of the Commission shall be submitted collectively to a vote of approval by the Parliament. Following this approval, the Commission shall be appointed by the Council.
Its office is in Brussels and it is in charge for five years. The mandate is renewable. The Commission members are appointed "on the basis of their general competence, work full time and carry out their tasks independently (Art. 17 TEU) and cannot seek or accept instructions from any government”.
The Commission has the right of initiative in the legislative process, i.e. the right to present legislative proposals on which the European Parliament and the Council of the EU then decide. The Commission looks after the application of Treaties and EU laws, under the supervision of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It shall execute the budget and manage programmes. It shall exercise, coordinating executive and management functions, as laid down by the Treaties. It ensures the external representation of the Union, except for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and other cases provided for in the treaties, negotiates (according to the powers conferred by the EU Council) agreements between the Union and international organizations and Third countries, including agreements of accession of new member states; it represents the Community before the national courts and, sometimes together with the EU Council, before the European Court of Justice of the European Union.
Of particular note are the powers of the Commission in the field of competition (where it takes the form of an administrative authority concerning monitoring and control: it examines the facts, granting approval or issuing bans and imposing sanctions) and in the management of structural funds and the budget.
Redattore: Cristiana MENE’

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