European Commission

The driving force of European integration

The European Commission is a supranational independent executive authority and key institution at the centre of the decision-making of the European Union (EU). It is similar to a European government and the driving force of European integration. It has its seat in Brussels and is assisted by a number of authorities and agencies located throughout the Member States.

There are 27 Commissioners in the Commission. They are presided over by the President of the European Commission, presently José Manuel Durão Barroso. The Commissioners are appointed for five-year terms – within a six-month period from the election to the European Parliament. They are selected on the basis of agreement between the prime ministers and heads of state of the Member States. Each Commissioner is entrusted with one ministry (an area of interest, or a grouping of such areas, the co-called portfolio), for which he/she becomes responsible. The Commissioners are entirely independent – they do not represent any Member States or other interest groups. They work entirely for the benefit of the European Union.

Activities of the Commission

The European Commission acts as an executive body, lawmaker, and controller:

  • administering, executing and putting into practice the Union policies and administering its budget
  • proposing and deliberating legislative proposals
  • supervising drafting of primary treaties (which includes all international treaties concluded by and between the Member States) and acts issued on their basis
  • representing the European Union on an international level, proposing and negotiating treaties with third countries.

The activities of the Commission are handled by several Directorates General and specialised bureaus. The functioning of the Commission is organised by the Secretariat General. The administrative operations of the Commission are carried out by approximately 25 thousand employees – administrators, secretaries, experts, translators and interpreters.

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:02

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