European Commission

The European Commission (EC) is an institution of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. Commissioners swear an oath at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg City, pledging to respect the treaties and to be completely independent in carrying out their duties during their mandate. Unlike in the Council of the European Union, where members are directly and indirectly elected, and the European Parliament, where members are directly elected, the Commissioners are proposed by the Council of the European Union, on the basis of suggestions made by the national governments, and then appointed by the European Council after the approval of the European Parliament.
The term Commission is variously used, either in the narrow sense of the 28-member College of Commissioners (or College) or to also include the administrative body of about 32,000 European civil servants who are split into departments called directorates-general and services. The procedural languages of the Commission are English, French and German. The Members of the Commission and their "cabinets" (immediate teams) are based in the Berlaymont building in Brussels.
The three bodies, collectively named the European Executives, co-existed until 1 July 1967 when, under the Merger Treaty, they were combined into a single administration under President Jean Rey. Owing to the merger, the Rey Commission saw a temporary increase to 14 membersalthough subsequent Commissions were reduced back to nine, following the formula of one member for small states and two for larger states. The Rey Commission completed the Community's customs union in 1968, and campaigned for a more powerful, elected, European Parliament. Despite Rey being the first President of the combined communities, Hallstein is seen as the first President of the modern Commission.
The Malfatti and Mansholt Commissions followed with work on monetary co-operation and the first enlargement to the north in 1973. With that enlargement, the Commission's membership increased to thirteen under the Ortoli Commission (the United Kingdom as a large member was granted two Commissioners), which dealt with the enlarged community during economic and international instability at that time. The external representation of the Community took a step forward when President Roy Jenkins, recruited to the presidency in January 1977 from his role as Home Secretary of the United Kingdom's Labour government,became the first President to attend a G8 summit on behalf of the Community. Following the Jenkins Commission, Gaston Thorn's Commission oversaw the Community's enlargement to the south, in addition to beginning work on the Single European Act.
Before the Treaty of Lisbon came into force, the executive power of the EU was held by the Council: it conferred on the Commission such powers for it to exercise. However, the Council was allowed to withdraw these powers, exercise them directly, or impose conditions on their use. This aspect has been changed by the Treaty of Lisbon, after which the Commission exercises its powers just by virtue of the treaties. Powers are more restricted than most national executives, in part due to the Commission's lack of power over areas like foreign policy that power is held by the European Council, which some analysts have described as another executive.

 


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