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The Commission of the European Union


The Commission of the European Union a supranational institution – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Commission of the European Union

The Commission of the European Union
  • a supranational institution

What is the function of the European
Commission? A - The European Commission has three
main tasks it introduces EU legislation, it
implements EU policy as approved by the Council
and the Parliament, and it acts as a watchdog to
ensure member states respect EU law and EU policy
decisions. The President and the members of the
Commission are appointed by the member states
(subject to the approval of the European
Institutions of the EU
  • The Commission of the European Union

José Manuel Barroso Presdient of the
Commission, 2004 -
  • Who/What is the Commission of the EU
  • Commissioners are appointed by member states of
    the EU and passed by the European Parliament
  • these are political appointments of governments
  • the President of the European Union is now
    involved in the appointment of the other
  • the Commission has a five year term
  • this coincides with the term of the European

  • What does the Commission do?
  • it is like the Civil Service of the European
  • it is more than a Civil Service, as it has a very
    important right of initiating policy. This means,
    the Commission can try to shape the agenda for
    the European Union and pull often reluctant
    member states into closer integration

Another view the Commissions role
  • The Commission makes proposals for policy, i.e.
    CAP, Environment, Competition policy, Social
    policy etc.
  • The Commission is the Guardian of the Treaties -
    it has a watchdog role
  • a mediator honest-broker between the competing
    interests of the member states and also between
    the institutions of the European Union
  • administrators the civil service of the EU its
    job is to ensure that Community policies are

How does the Commission go about its business?
Standard operating procedures of the Commission
  • Innovative forms of regulatory policy have
  • to reduce governments resistance to legislation,
    but without imposing direct costs on EU/member
    states target of regulation in the social
    sphere has been chosen carefully
  • Redistribution , not an option - EU budget, only
    2.4 of combined spending of member state
  • costs deflected unto individuals, companies and
    away from governments

Standard operating procedures of the Commission
  • Build a constitutency of support for European
  • get interest groups representing the vulnerable,
    etc. so harder for govts. to ignore certain
    social problems,
  • e.g. EAPN European Anti-Poverty Network
  • Equality Womens Networks

Standard operating procedures of the Commission
  • Attempt to control the definition of problems
  • Commissions analysis of problems will emphasise
    common causes across the EU and suggest the need
    for solutions coordinated from the European
    level, I.e. Brussels
  • social policy area
  • environmental issues
  • competition

Standard operating procedures of the Commission
  • Experiment with alternative institution building,
    to circumvent resistance from member states
  • mangement and labour given a greater role in
    policy formulation and policy impelmentation
  • 1995 the first social partner agreement was
    concluded between these two bodies on parental

The Commission - the scapegoat
  • portrayed as greedy for power
  • politicians, the press, often blame the
    Commission for problems, the Brussels
    bureaucracy, faceless technocrats
  • appointees of governments, not elected so they
    have no popular mandate

The Commission - in the doldrums
  • March 1999 - college resigned en masse in the
    face of withering charges of corruption and
  • French Commissioner - her dentist
  • Reform in the air - since the Prodi Commission
    this is regarded as a necessity

Prodi Commission and reform
  • The rationale behind the reform is an acceptance
    that the reach of the Commission had extended
    beyond its grasp and that it had failed to keep
    up with developments in its environment. In
    particular, the Commission had been given a
    growing number of executivefunctions by the
    Council and the EP
  • The reform process is a multifaceted one
  • impact on the formation of the Commission
  • conduct of Commissioners,
  • the internal operation of the Commission and its
    relationship with other bodies in the Union.

Reform process is designed to
  • 1. strengthen the regulatory framework within
    the Commission to enhance its
  • capacity for self-regulation. This facet of the
    reform contains codes of
  • conduct for Commissioners and officials,
    modernisation of the internal
  • rules of procedure and appointment, and major
    changes in financial
  • management and control.
  • 2. modernise the management of individual
    directorates by enhancing the
  • targeting of particular tasks, evaluation and
    accountability. The emphasis
  • here is on Activity Based Management, more
    efficient work practices
  • cutting red tape and simplifying procedures and
  • 3. alter the internal allocation of human
    resources and improve recruitment,
  • promotions and training (Kinnock 2000).

Unique character as an international institution
  • no other institution with its mix of political
    and administrative skills
  • headed by a cabinet with designated mandates,
    approved by governments acted as a college
  • working to a set of goals that had a degree of
    definition in the Treaty of Rome
  • has quasi-judicial power in certain areas, e.g.
    abuse of market

Unique character as an international institution
  • works within, subject to and applies a system of
    rules embodied in the legal system of the
  • has a key position in the diplomacy of the EU,
    can build coalitions among actors, directly
    participates in the discussions of the Council of
    Ministers, has detailed awareness of governments
    difficulties with policies.