European Commission (EC)

Source: Europa Nu.

The European Commission is the executive body of the EU and runs its day-to-day business. It is made up of the College of Commissioners, 27 European Commissioners, one for each member state, who are each responsible for one or several policy areas. In addition, the 'Commission' also refers to the entire administrative body that supports the Commissioners, consisting of the Directorates-General and the Services.

The European Commission is the sole EU body capable of proposing new legislation. The Commission also performs an oversight function, monitoring whether European legislation is properly implemented in the member states. In the event of non-compliance, the Commission can coerce a member state to comply by starting a legal procedure at the European Court of Justice.

Besides this, the Commission represents the EU in negotiations in international organisations such as the World Trade Organisation concerning the Union's trade relations with countries outside the EU. It holds this function so that it can monitor for any unauthorized state support by foreign governments to European companies, which would jeopardize Europe's competitive position. Finally, the Commission is responsible for managing the European budget of approximately 150 billion euros yearly.

The current von der Leyen Commission i assumed office on the 2nd of December 2019.


Powers and responsibilities

The separation of powers between the three most important institutions of the European Union can be summarized in broad strokes: the European Commission proposes new legislation and regulation, the European Parliament debates these and can propose amendments, following which Parliament and the Council of the European Union i jointly finalise a decision. The European Court of Justice watches over the integrity of these decisions. Its rulings hold priority over the legislation of member states.

The Commission has five main tasks:

  • Legislative initiative

    The European Commission is the sole holder of the right of legislative initiative within the EU. It formulates draft legislation for various areas of EU policy, but mainly in the internal market, economic coordination, justice and internal affairs, transport, industry, social and employment policy, agriculture, environment, energy, regional development, trade relations and development aid.

  • Enforcing European legislation

    The Commission is tasked with monitoring whether EU-legislation is properly implemented in the member states. It may refer infractions or negligence to the European Court.

    The most prominent area of EU policy enforced by the Commission is competition in the internal market. The Commission determines whether major corporate fusions and take-overs contribute to a dangerous extent to monopoly-formation, and monitors whether member states offer unjustified state aid to industry.

  • Executive power

    The European Commission acts as the representative of the EU on the world stage, in conferences of groups such as the World Trade Organisation.

    Furthermore, the Commission handles the day-to-day runnings of many programs in the areas of education (such as Erasmus i, Comenius i and Da Vinci), development aid and humanitarian aid.

  • Managing the budget

    The Commission is responsible for administration of the communal EU-budget, under oversight of the European Court of Auditors i.

  • Publishing advice and recommendations



The European Commission consists of 27 members, together referred to as the College of Commissioners, and a sizeable administrative office. Each Commissioner heads one or more directorates-general i, which in turn cover one or more areas of policy.

A position created in the Juncker Commission, the Vice Presidents i have a special role. Each heads a project team, covering a cluster of closely connected policy areas, which can block proposals by other Commissioners.

The Commission generally meets once a week in Brussels, on Wednesday. At these meetings, each Commissioner explains the items on the agenda related to their area of policy. Decisions are made by the 27 members of the Commission by unqualified majority vote. Once a decision has been made, it is integral to Commission policy.


Legal framework

The legal foundations for the European Commission and its powers are codified in the Treaty on European Union i (also known as the Maastricht Treaty) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union i.

  • General role and purpose: TEU title II, articles 13 i, 17 i.
  • Composition and organisation: TFEU part six, title I, Chapter 1, section four (articles 244-250)
  • Dismissal upon rejection: TFEU part six, Title I, Chapter 1, first part of article 234 i.


More information

Fact sheet by the European Parliament



Legislative proposals in negotiation

There are 230 proposals for legislative or other legal instruments of this Directorate-General in negotiations with the Council and the European Parliament.
Date Title
27.01.2021  Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION pursuant to Article 218 (9) TFEU on the Union position concerning the draft Joint Committee Decision on the determination of goods not at ...
Decision com(2020)834
27.01.2021  EU position in the Joint Committee by Art. 218(9) of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU as regards agricultural subsidies.
Decision com(2020)835
26.12.2020  Approval of the conclusion of the Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom and Euratom for Cooperation on the Safe and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.
Recommendation com(2020)857
10.12.2020  Targeted contingency measures in the absence of an agreement with the United Kingdom on a future partnership.
Communication com(2020)831
27.11.2020  EU position on application of provisions of title III part 2 of the UK Withdrawal Agreement shall apply to the nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and ...
Decision com(2020)780


Legislation currently being implemented

There are 32 laws or other legal instruments of the Council and the European Parliament, previously proposed by undefined, which are currently being implemented by the member states.
Date Title
09.02.2021  EU position as regards the date on which provisional application of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the UK shall cease.
Decision com(2021)64
27.01.2021  EU position in the Joint Committee established by Article 164 of the UK withdrawal agreement from the EU as regards amending the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.
Decision com(2020)832
27.01.2021  EU position in the Joint Committee by Art. 164 of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU as regards Union presence.
Decision com(2020)833
27.01.2021  EU position in the Joint Committee of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU as regards the members of an arbitration panel.
Decision com(2020)841
26.12.2020  Conclusion of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the United Kingdom and of the Agreement on security procedures for exchanging and protecting classified ...
Decision com(2020)856


Legislation in force

There are at least 27 laws or other legal instruments in force that have been previously proposed by undefined.
Date Title
03.04.2008  Draft Decision of the EEA Joint Committee amending Protocol 30 to the EEA agreement, on specific provisions on the organization of cooperation in the field of statistics ...
Decision sec(2008)408
05.10.2007  Amendment of Regulations (EC) No 2015/2006 and (EC) No 41/2007, as regards fishing opportunities and associated conditions for certain fish stocks.
Regulation com(2007)570
12.09.2007  Recommendation for a Council Recommendation to the Czech Republic with a view to bringing an end to the situation of an excessive government deficit Application of ...
Recommendation sec(2007)1154
16.08.2007  Conclusion of the Agreement on the provisional application of the fisheries agreement with Mozambique.
Decision com(2007)473
11.07.2007  Recommendation from the Commission to the Council Concerning proposals, on behalf of the EC together with the Member States, for amendments to annex A of the Stockholm ...
Recommendation sec(2007)972