The European Commission is, with the Council of the European Union , the European Parliament and the European Council , one of the main institutions of the European Union. The European Commission was created in 1958 with the Treaty of Rome and it is one of the most important European institutions because it’s a permanent representation of the member states.

Its president is designated by the Council of Europe and approved by the Parliament. The other member states propose their candidates and the president has to choose one candidate per country to work in a specific domain. Currently there are 28 commissioners representing the member states of the Union: 27 members and the president. The five-year-mandate of the current Commission, whose chairman is the Portuguese José Manuel Barroso, will end on October, 31st  2014.

The Commission gathers every week and each meeting is based on the Commission work program.

It is the executive body of the EU. It represents the interests of the Union as a whole ( and not the special interests of EU countries ).

Its headquarters are in Brussels in the Berlaymont building, Belgium. It also has offices in Luxembourg and “representations” in each EU Member State. ▪ 23,000 people work at the Commission , in services and Directorates-General ( DG ) . Each DG is responsible for an area of ​​action and is under the responsibility of an executive director, himself placed under the direct authority of the President of the Commission. The DG develops legislative proposals to be adopted by the college of Commissioners at their weekly meeting. The Commission also manages a number of executive agencies. Furthermore, there are several parties which are the communist party (35 seats) the socialist and democrat party (195 seats), the green free alliance party (58 seats) the liberal democrat party (84 seats) the European popular party (274 seats) the European conservative and reformist party (56 seats) and the European freedoms and democracy party (33 seats). There are also 33 seats which belong to the non-attached persons.

 

The main functions of the Commission are to propose and implement Community policies. But it also deals with other important tasks such as:

– managing and implementing EU policies and the budget;

– defining the objectives and priorities for EU action;

– representing the EU on the international scene (negotiating trade agreements between the EU and other countries)

– submitting legislative proposals to the Parliament and to the Council

– ensuring the implementation of EU legislation (with the European Court of Justice). Moreover, the commission has to protect the union’s general interest, take initiative, try to make life fairer & insure that companies respect the rules. For instance it tries to reduce the rate of unemployment in Europe and to build infrastructures. In addition it develops humanitarian aid, climate and immigration policies. In fact, The Commission tries to give to the 500 000 000 European people a better life.

 

There are 2 important principles which are based on proportionality and subsidiarity. It means that the UE act at the Union scales and not at States scale. The role is to achieve common objectives. That’s why the members have to respect the principles of impartiality and transparency by taking distance from their nationality & their political ideas. The Commission is like a team in which, efficiency is very important to reach goals, so the countries have to work together and to check that all the States implement the decisions taken.

The president chooses the commissioners ( and defines their areas of expertise ) among the candidates nominated by the Member States . The list of Commissioners dépends on the approval of the Council of Ministers and the Parliament. If the Parliament approves of the list , the new Commission is formally appointed by the Board.

The principle of collective responsibility (which is represented by the College of Commissioners, which is collectively responsible before the Parliament) rests upon decisions which are made collectively. So the president has a very important role because he is the one who guides the decisions: he defines the policy guidance, assigns a portfolio to each Commissioner (internal market, regional policy, transport, environment, agriculture, trade, etc. . .) and may  modify their function at any time.

To take these decisions, all the commissioners have to give their opinion; but they must take distance from their own political ideas, and they have to accept to share political responsibility.

 

The Commissioners submit proposals to the College of Commissioners, which is collectively responsible before the Parliament , and which deliberates usually by consensus. The college can also make a vote on the request of a commissioner. In this case , decisions are made with a simple majority .

Collegiality guarantees:

⁃the quality of the decisions, since all the commissioners need to be consulted for each proposal;

⁃the independence of the institution, since its decisions are adopted without partisan pressures;

⁃ the sharing of political responsibility by all commissioners , even when decisions are made by the majority.
The commissioners meet once a week, usually on Wednesdays in Brussels. They may also meet in Strasbourg during the plenary session of the Parliament. The agenda for the meetings is prepared according to the   work program of the Commission . Each agenda item is introduced by the Commissioner responsible for the area concerned. Then the college makes a collective decision. These meetings and debates are not open to the public, but orders of the day and reports are published. Indeed, there are 900 accredited journalists.
The Commission also meets when emergencies or major issues are discussed by the Council of Ministers.

 

To conclude, the European Commission is the one which gives the impulsion and which enforces the rules. It’s like the starting and the ending point of every decision. Besides, what is discussed in the European Commission today is very important because it is what will happen later : all the décisions made can change many lives and that’s why it is essential not to forget the importance of the European Commission.

However it’s sometimes too long to make decisions and it’s a problem for the efficiency of the institutions because they’re all linked!

 

 

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