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 Commission operates as a cabinet government, with 28 members of the Commission (informally known as "commissioners"). There is one member per member state, but members are bound by their oath of office to represent the general interest of the EU as a whole rather than their home state. One of the 28 is the Commission President (currently Jean-Claude Juncker) proposed by the European Council and elected by the European Parliament. The Council of the European Union then nominates the other 27 members of the Commission in agreement with the nominated President, and the 28 members as a single body are then subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament. The current Commission is the Juncker Commission, which took office in late 2014, following the European Parliament elections in May of the same year.
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.
|Role||Executive branch with legislative powers|
|Established||16 January 1958|
|Current college||Juncker Commission|
The European Commission derives from one of the five key institutions created in the supranational European Community system, following the proposal of Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister, on 9 May 1950. Originating in 1951 as the High Authority in the European Coal and Steel Community, the Commission has undergone numerous changes in power and composition under various presidents, involving three Communities.
|Commission of the European Atomic Energy Community||Commission of the European Communities||European Commission|
|High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community|
|Commission of the European Economic Community|
The first Commission originated in 1951 as the nine-member "High Authority" under President Jean Monnet (see Monnet Authority). The High Authority was the supranational administrative executive of the new European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). It took office first on 10 August 1952 in Luxembourg. In 1958, the Treaties of Rome had established two new communities alongside the ECSC: the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). However their executives were called "Commissions" rather than "High Authorities". The reason for the change in name was the new relationship between the executives and the Council. Some states, such as France, expressed reservations over the power of the High Authority, and wished to limit it by giving more power to the Council rather than the new executives.
Louis Armand led the first Commission of Euratom. Walter Hallstein led the first Commission of the EEC, holding the first formal meeting on 16 January 1958 at the Château of Val-Duchesse. It achieved agreement on a contentious cereal price accord, as well as making a positive impression upon third countries when it made its international debut at the Kennedy Round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations. Hallstein notably began the consolidation of European law and started to have a notable impact on national legislation. Little heed was taken of his administration at first but, with help from the European Court of Justice, his Commission stamped its authority solidly enough to allow future Commissions to be taken more seriously. in 1965, however, accumulating differences between the French government of Charles de Gaulle and the other member states on various subjects (British entry, direct elections to Parliament, the Fouchet Plan and the budget) triggered the "empty chair" crisis, ostensibly over proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy. Although the institutional crisis was solved the following year, it cost Etienne Hirsch his presidency of Euratom and later Walter Hallstein the EEC presidency, despite his otherwise being viewed as the most 'dynamic' leader until Jacques Delors.
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 members—although 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.
The Commission headed by Jacques Delors was seen as giving the Community a sense of direction and dynamism. Delors and his team are also considered as the "founding fathers of the euro". The International Herald Tribune noted the work of Delors at the end of his second term in 1992: "Mr. Delors rescued the European Community from the doldrums. He arrived when Europessimism was at its worst. Although he was a little-known former French finance minister, he breathed life and hope into the EC and into the dispirited Brussels Commission. In his first term, from 1985 to 1988, he rallied Europe to the call of the single market, and when appointed to a second term he began urging Europeans toward the far more ambitious goals of economic, monetary and political union".
The successor to Delors was Jacques Santer. As a result of a fraud and corruption scandal, the entire Santer Commission was forced by the Parliament to resign in 1999; a central role was played by Édith Cresson. These frauds were revealed by an internal auditor, Paul van Buitenen.
That was the first time a Commission had been forced to resign en masse, and represented a shift of power towards the Parliament. However, the Santer Commission did carry out work on the Treaty of Amsterdam and the euro. In response to the scandal, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) was created.
Following Santer, Romano Prodi took office. The Amsterdam Treaty had increased the Commission's powers and Prodi was dubbed by the press as something akin to a Prime Minister. Powers were strengthened again; the Treaty of Nice, signed in 2001, gave the Presidents more power over the composition of their Commissions.
José Manuel Barroso became President in 2004: the Parliament once again asserted itself in objecting to the proposed membership of the Barroso Commission. Owing to this opposition, Barroso was forced to reshuffle his team before taking office. The Barroso Commission was also the first full Commission since the enlargement in 2004 to 25 members; hence, the number of Commissioners at the end of the Prodi Commission had reached 30. As a result of the increase in the number of states, the Amsterdam Treaty triggered a reduction in the number of Commissioners to one per state, rather than two for the larger states.
Allegations of fraud and corruption were again raised in 2004 by former chief auditor Jules Muis. A Commission officer, Guido Strack, reported alleged fraud and abuses in his department in the years 2002–2004 to OLAF, and was fired as a result. In 2008, Paul van Buitenen (the former auditor known from the Santer Commission scandal) accused the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) of a lack of independence and effectiveness.
Barroso's first Commission term expired on 31 October 2009. Under the Treaty of Nice, the first Commission to be appointed after the number of member states reached 27 would have to be reduced to "less than the number of Member States". The exact number of Commissioners was to be decided by a unanimous vote of the European Council, and membership would rotate equally between member states. Following the accession of Romania and Bulgaria in January 2007, this clause took effect for the next Commission. The Treaty of Lisbon, which came into force on 1 December 2009, mandated a reduction of the number of commissioners to two-thirds of member-states from 2014 unless the Council decided otherwise. Membership would rotate equally and no member state would have more than one Commissioner. However, the treaty was rejected by voters in Ireland in 2008 with one main concern being the loss of their Commissioner. Hence a guarantee given for a rerun of the vote was that the Council would use its power to amend the number of Commissioners upwards. However, according to the treaties it still has to be fewer than the total number of members, thus it was proposed that the member state that does not get a Commissioner would get the post of High Representative – the so-called 26+1 formula. This guarantee (which may find its way into the next treaty amendment, probably in an accession treaty) contributed to the Irish approving the treaty in a second referendum in 2009.
Lisbon also combined the posts of European Commissioner for External Relations with the Council's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. This post, also a Vice-President of the Commission, would chair the Council of the European Union's foreign affairs meetings as well as the Commission's external relations duties. The treaty further provides that the most recent European elections should be "taken into account" when appointing the Commission, although the President is still proposed by the European Council; the European Parliament "elects" the Commission, rather than "approves" it as under the Treaty of Nice.
In 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker became President of the European Commission.
Juncker appointed his previous campaign director and head of the transition team, Martin Selmayr, as his chief of cabinet. During the Juncker presidency Selmayr has been described as "the most powerful EU chief of staff ever."
The Commission was set up from the start to act as an independent supranational authority separate from governments; it has been described as "the only body paid to think European". The members are proposed by their member state governments, one from each. However, they are bound to act independently – free from other influences such as those governments which appointed them. This is in contrast to the Council of the European Union, which represents governments, the European Parliament, which represents citizens, the Economic and Social Committee, which represents organised civil society, and the Committee of the Regions, which represents local and regional authorities.
Through Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union the Commission has several responsibilities: to develop medium-term strategies; to draft legislation and arbitrate in the legislative process; to represent the EU in trade negotiations; to make rules and regulations, for example in competition policy; to draw up the budget of the European Union; and to scrutinise the implementation of the treaties and legislation. The rules of procedure of the European Commission set out the Commission's operation and organisation.
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.
Considering that under the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council has become a formal institution with the power of appointing the Commission, it could be said that the two bodies hold the executive power of the EU (the European Council also holds individual national executive powers). However, it is the Commission that currently holds executive powers over the European Union. The governmental powers of the Commission have been such that some, including former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, have suggested changing its name to the "European Government", calling the present name of the Commission "ridiculous".
The Commission differs from the other institutions in that it alone has legislative initiative in the EU. Only the Commission can make formal proposals for legislation: they cannot originate in the legislative branches. Under the Treaty of Lisbon, no legislative act is allowed in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. In the other fields the Council and Parliament are able to request legislation; in most cases the Commission initiates on the basis of these proposals. This monopoly is designed to ensure coordinated and coherent drafting of EU law. This monopoly has been challenged by some who claim the Parliament should also have the right, with most national parliaments holding the right in some respects. However, the Council and Parliament may request the Commission to draft legislation, though the Commission does have the power to refuse to do so as it did in 2008 over transnational collective conventions. Under the Lisbon Treaty, EU citizens are also able to request the Commission to legislate in an area via a petition carrying one million signatures, but this is not binding.
The Commission's powers in proposing law have usually centred on economic regulation. It has put forward a large number of regulations based on a "precautionary principle". This means that pre-emptive regulation takes place if there is a credible hazard to the environment or human health: for example on tackling climate change and restricting genetically modified organisms. This is opposed to weighting regulations for their effect on the economy. Thus, the Commission often proposes stricter legislation than other countries. Owing to the size of the European market, this has made EU legislation an important influence in the global market.
Recently the Commission has moved into creating European criminal law. In 2006, a toxic waste spill off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire, from a European ship, prompted the Commission to look into legislation against toxic waste. Some EU states at that time did not even have a crime against shipping toxic waste; this led the Commissioners Franco Frattini and Stavros Dimas to put forward the idea of "ecological crimes". Their right to propose criminal law was challenged in the European Court of Justice but upheld. As of 2007, the only other criminal law proposals which have been brought forward are on the intellectual property rights directive, and on an amendment to the 2002 counter-terrorism framework decision, outlawing terrorism‑related incitement, recruitment (especially via the internet) and training.
Once legislation is passed by the Council and Parliament, it is the Commission's responsibility to ensure it is implemented. It does this through the member states or through its agencies. In adopting the necessary technical measures, the Commission is assisted by committees made up of representatives of member states and of the public and private lobbies (a process known in jargon as "comitology"). Furthermore, the Commission is responsible for the implementation of the EU budget, ensuring, along with the Court of Auditors, that EU funds are correctly spent.
In particular the Commission has a duty to ensure the treaties and law are upheld, potentially by taking member states or other institutions to the Court of Justice in a dispute. In this role it is known informally as the "guardian of the treaties". Finally, the Commission provides some external representation for the Union, alongside the member states and the Common Foreign and Security Policy, representing the Union in bodies such as the World Trade Organization. It is also usual for the President to attend meetings of the G8.
The Commission is composed of a college of "Commissioners" of 28 members, including the President and vice-presidents. Even though each member is nominated on the basis of the suggestions made by the national governments, one per state, they do not represent their state in the Commission. In practice, however, they do occasionally press for their national interest. Once proposed, the President delegates portfolios among each of the members. The power of a Commissioner largely depends upon their portfolio, and can vary over time. For example, the Education Commissioner has been growing in importance, in line with the rise in the importance of education and culture in European policy-making. Another example is the Competition Commissioner, who holds a highly visible position with global reach. Before the Commission can assume office, the college as a whole must be approved by the Parliament. Commissioners are supported by their personal cabinet who give them political guidance, while the Civil Service (the DGs, see below) deal with technical preparation.
The President of the Commission is first proposed by the European Council taking into account the latest Parliamentary elections; that candidate can then be elected by the European Parliament or not. If not, the European Council shall propose another candidate within one month. The candidate has often been a leading national politician, but this is not a requirement. In 2009 (as with 2004), the Lisbon Treaty was not in force and Barroso was not "elected" by the Parliament, but rather nominated by the European Council; in any case, the centre-right parties of the EU pressured for a candidate from their own ranks. In the end, a centre-right candidate was chosen: José Manuel Barroso of the European People's Party.
There are further criteria influencing the choice of the candidate, including: which area of Europe the candidate comes from, favoured as Southern Europe in 2004; the candidate's political influence, credible yet not overpowering members; language, proficiency in French considered necessary by France; and degree of integration, their state being a member of both the eurozone and the Schengen Agreement. In 2004, this system produced a number of candidates and was thus criticised by some MEPs: following the drawn-out selection, the ALDE group leader Graham Watson described the procedure as a "Justus Lipsius carpet market" producing only the "lowest common denominator"; while Green-EFA co-leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit asked Barroso after his first speech "If you are the best candidate, why were you not the first?"
Following the election of the President, and the appointment of the High Representative by the European Council, each Commissioner is nominated by their member state (except for those states who provided the President and High Representative) in consultation with the Commission President, although he holds no hard power to force a change in candidate. However the more capable the candidate is, the more likely the Commission President will assign them a powerful portfolio, the distribution of which is entirely at his discretion. The President's team is then subject to hearings at the European Parliament which will question them and then vote on their suitability as a whole. If members of the team are found to be too inappropriate, the President must then reshuffle the team or request a new candidate from the member state or risk the whole Commission being voted down. As Parliament cannot vote against individual Commissioners there is usually a compromise whereby the worst candidates are removed but minor objections are put aside so the Commission can take office. Once the team is approved by parliament, it is formally put into office by the European Council (TEU Article 17:7).
Following their appointment, the President appoints a number of Vice-Presidents (the High Representative is mandated to be one of them) from among the commissioners. For the most part, the position grants little extra power to Vice-Presidents, except the first Vice-President who stands in for the President when he is away.
The European Parliament can dissolve the Commission as a whole following a vote of no-confidence but only the President can request the resignation of an individual Commissioner. However, individual Commissioners, by request of the Council or Commission, can be compelled to retire on account of a breach of obligation(s) and if so ruled by the European Court of Justice (Art. 245 and 247, Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
The Barroso Commission took office in late 2004 after being delayed by objections from the Parliament, which forced a reshuffle. In 2007 the Commission increased from 25 to 27 members with the accession of Romania and Bulgaria who each appointed their own Commissioners. With the increasing size of the Commission, Barroso adopted a more presidential style of control over the college, which earned him some criticism.
However, under Barroso, the Commission began to lose ground to the larger member states as countries such as France, the UK and Germany sought to sideline its role. This has increased with the creation of the President of the European Council under the Treaty of Lisbon. There has also been a greater degree of politicisation within the Commission.
The Commission is divided into departments known as Directorates-General (DGs) that can be likened to departments or ministries. Each covers a specific policy area such as agriculture or justice and citizens' rights or internal services such as human resources and translation and is headed by a director-general who is responsible to a commissioner. A commissioner's portfolio can be supported by numerous DGs; they prepare proposals for them and if approved by a majority of commissioners proposals go forward to the Parliament and Council for consideration. The Commission's civil service is headed by a Secretary General, currently Martin Selmayr. The rules of procedure of the European Commission set out the Commission's operation and organisation.
There has been criticism from a number of people that the highly fragmented DG structure wastes a considerable amount of time in turf wars as the different departments and Commissioners compete with each other. Furthermore, the DGs can exercise considerable control over a Commissioner with the Commissioner having little time to learn to assert control over their staff.
According to figures published by the Commission, 23,803 persons were employed by the Commission as officials and temporary agents in September 2012. In addition to these, 9230 "external staff" (e.g. Contractual agents, detached national experts, young experts, trainees etc.) were employed. The single largest DG is the Directorate-General for Translation, with a 2309-strong staff, while the largest group by nationality is Belgian (18.7%), probably due to a majority (17,664) of staff being based in the country.
Communication with the press is handled by the Directorate-General Communication. The Commission's chief spokesperson is Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen who takes the midday press briefings, commonly known as the "Midday Presser". It takes place every weekday in the Commission's press room at the Berlaymont where journalists may ask questions of Commission officials on any topic and legitimately expect to get an "on the record" answer for live TV. Such a situation is unique in the world.
It has been noted by one researcher that the press releases issued by the Commission are uniquely political. A release often goes through several stages of drafting which emphasises the role of the Commission and is used "for justifying the EU and the commission" increasing their length and complexity. Where there are multiple departments involved a press release can also be a source of competition between areas of the Commission and Commissioners themselves. This also leads to an unusually high number of press releases, 1907 for 2006, and is seen as a unique product of the EU's political set-up. The number of Commission press releases shows a decreasing trend. 1768 press releases were published in 2010 and 1589 in 2011.
There is a larger press corps in Brussels than Washington, D.C.; in 2007, media outlets in every Union member-state had a Brussels correspondent. However, following the global downturn, the press corps in Brussels shrunk by a third by 2010. There is one journalist covering EU news for Latvia and none for Lithuania. Although there has been a worldwide cut in journalists, the considerable press releases and operations such as Europe by Satellite and EuroparlTV leads many news organisations to believe they can cover the EU from these source and news agencies. In the face of high-level criticism, the Commission shut down Presseurop on 20 December 2013.
While the commission is the executive branch, the candidates are chosen individually by the 28 national governments, which means it is not possible for a commission member or president to be removed by a direct election. Rather, the legitimacy of the commission is mainly drawn from the vote of approval that is required from the European Parliament, along with its power to dismiss the body, which, in turn, raises the concern of the relatively low turnout (less than 50%) in elections for the European Parliament since 1999. While that figure may be higher than that of some national elections, including the off-year elections of the United States Congress, the fact that there are no elections for the position of commission president calls the position's legitimacy into question in the eyes of some. The fact that the commission can directly decide (albeit with oversight from specially formed 'comitology committees') on the shape and character of implementing legislation further raises concerns about democratic legitimacy.
Even though democratic structures and methods are developing there is not such a mirror in creating a European civil society. The Treaty of Lisbon may go some way to resolving the deficit in creating greater democratic controls on the Commission, including enshrining the procedure of linking elections to the selection of the Commission president. An alternative viewpoint is that electoral pressures undermine the Commission's role as an independent regulator, considering it akin with institutions such as independent central banks which deal with technical areas of policy. In addition some defenders of the Commission point out that legislation must be approved by the Council in all areas (the ministers of member states) and the European Parliament in some areas before it can be adopted, thus the amount of legislation which is adopted in any one country without the approval of its government is limited.
In 2009 the European ombudsman published statistics of citizens' complaints against EU institutions, with most of them filed against the Commission (66%) and concerning lack of transparency (36%). In 2010 the Commission was sued for blocking access to documents on EU biofuel policy. This happened after media accused the Commission of blocking scientific evidence against biofuel subsidies. Lack of transparency, unclear lobbyist relations, conflicts of interests and excessive spending of the Commission was highlighted in a number of reports by internal and independent auditing organisations. It has also been criticised on IT-related issues, particularly with regard to Microsoft.
The European Commission has an Action Plan to enhance preparedness against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) security risks as part of its anti-terrorism package released in October 2017. In recent times Europe has seen an increased threat level of CBRN attacks. As such, the European Commission's preparedness plan is important, said Steven Neville Chatfield, a director for the Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response in the United Kingdom's Health Protection Agency. For the first time, the European Commission proposed that medical preparedness for CBRN attack threats is a high priority. “The European Commission’s (EC) Action Plan to enhance preparedness against CBRN security risks is part of its anti-terrorism package released in October 2017, a strategy aimed at better protecting the more than 511 million citizens across the 28 member states of the European Union (EU).”
The Commission is primarily based in Brussels, with the President's office and the Commission's meeting room on the 13th floor of the Berlaymont building. The Commission also operates out of numerous other buildings in Brussels and Luxembourg. When the Parliament is meeting in Strasbourg, the Commissioners also meet there in the Winston Churchill building to attend the Parliament's debates. Additionally, the European Commission has facilities that support it in Alicante, Spain; Munich, Germany; and Varese, Italy.
Informally, the appointed members of the Commission are known as 'commissioners'.
A new team of 27 Commissioners (one from each EU country) is appointed every five years.
The Commission is divided into several departments and services. The departments are known as Directorates-General (DGs).
23 000 staff members work in the Commission in departments, known as directorates-general (DGs) or services, each responsible for a particular policy area and headed by a Director-General, who reports directly to the President.
The European Union has 24 official and working languages ... The European Commission employs English, French and German in general as procedural languages ...
See paragraphs 7, 8 & 13 of the Presidency conclusions of the European Council on 13/14 March 2008
The Commission is based in Brussels and Luxembourg and has offices (representations) in every EU country and delegations in capital cities around the world.
The Erasmus Programme (EuRopean Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) is a European Union (EU) student exchange programme established in 1987. Erasmus+, or Erasmus Plus, is the new programme combining all the EU's current schemes for education, training, youth and sport, which was started in January 2014.
The Erasmus Programme, together with a number of other independent programmes, was incorporated into the Socrates programme established by the European Commission in 1994. The Socrates programme ended on 31 December 1999 and was replaced with the Socrates II programme on 24 January 2000, which in turn was replaced by the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 on 1 January 2007.Euro
The euro (sign: €; code: EUR) is the official currency of 19 of the 28 member states of the European Union. This group of states is known as the eurozone or euro area, and counts about 343 million citizens as of 2019. The euro is the second largest and second most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar. The euro is subdivided into 100 cents.
The currency is also used officially by the institutions of the European Union, by four European microstates that are not EU members, as well as unilaterally by Montenegro and Kosovo. Outside Europe, a number of special territories of EU members also use the euro as their currency. Additionally, 240 million people worldwide as of 2018 use currencies pegged to the euro.The euro is the second largest reserve currency as well as the second most traded currency in the world after the United States dollar.
As of August 2018, with more than €1.2 trillion in circulation, the euro has one of the highest combined values of banknotes and coins in circulation in the world, having surpassed the U.S. dollar.The name euro was officially adopted on 16 December 1995 in Madrid. The euro was introduced to world financial markets as an accounting currency on 1 January 1999, replacing the former European Currency Unit (ECU) at a ratio of 1:1 (US$1.1743). Physical euro coins and banknotes entered into circulation on 1 January 2002, making it the day-to-day operating currency of its original members, and by March 2002 it had completely replaced the former currencies. While the euro dropped subsequently to US$0.83 within two years (26 October 2000), it has traded above the U.S. dollar since the end of 2002, peaking at US$1.60 on 18 July 2008. In late 2009, the euro became immersed in the European sovereign-debt crisis, which led to the creation of the European Financial Stability Facility as well as other reforms aimed at stabilising and strengthening the currency.Euro sign
The euro sign (€) is the currency sign used for the euro, the official currency of the European Union (EU) and some non-EU countries (Kosovo and Montenegro). The design was presented to the public by the European Commission on 12 December 1996. It consists of a stylized letter E (or epsilon), crossed by two lines instead of one. The character is encoded in Unicode at U+20AC € EURO SIGN (HTML € · €). In English, the sign precedes the value (for instance, €10, not 10 €, unlike most other European languages). In some style guides, the euro sign is not spaced (10€).European Commissioner
A European Commissioner is a member of the 28-member European Commission. Each member within the Commission holds a specific portfolio, and the Commission is led by the President of the European Commission. In simple terms they are the equivalent of national ministers.European Community number
The European Community number (EC number) is a unique seven-digit identifier that was assigned to substances for regulatory purposes within the European Union by the European Commission. The EC Inventory comprises three individual inventories, EINECS, ELINCS and the NLP list.European People's Party
The European People's Party (EPP) is a conservative and Christian democratic European political party. A transnational organisation, it is composed of other political parties, not individuals. Founded by primarily Christian democratic parties in 1976, it has since broadened its membership to include liberal-conservative parties and parties with other centre-right political perspectives.The EPP has been the largest party in the European Parliament since 1999 and in the European Council since 2002. It is also by far the largest party in the current European Commission. The President of the European Council, President of the European Commission and the President of the European Parliament are all from the EPP. Many of the Founding fathers of the European Union were also from parties that later formed the EPP. Outside the EU the party also controls a majority in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The EPP has alternated with its centre-left rival the Party of European Socialists (PES) as the largest European political party and parliamentary group.
The EPP includes major centre-right parties such as the Union of Germany (CDU/CSU), The Republicans of France, CD&V of Belgium, KDU-ČSL of the Czech Republic, Fine Gael of Ireland, New Democracy (Greece) of Greece, Forza Italia of Italy, the People's Party (PP) of Spain, the Social Democratic Party of Portugal, the Civic Platform of Poland but also Fidesz of Hungary (a party critizised for its authoritarianism and its nationalist views).European Union
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated population of about 513 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.
The EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome. The original members of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. The Communities and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. While no member state has left the EU or its antecedent organisations, the United Kingdom signified the intention to leave after a membership referendum in June 2016 and is negotiating its withdrawal on 29 March 2019.
Covering 7.3% of the world population, the EU in 2017 generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 19.670 trillion US dollars, constituting approximately 24.6% of global nominal GDP. Additionally, all 28 EU countries have a very high Human Development Index, according to the United Nations Development Programme. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence. The union maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G7 and the G20. Because of its global influence, the European Union has been described as an emerging superpower.Eurostat
Eurostat (European Statistical Office) is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide statistical information to the institutions of the European Union (EU) and to promote the harmonisation of statistical methods across its member states and candidates for accession as well as EFTA countries. The organisations in the different countries that cooperate with Eurostat are summarised under the concept of the European Statistical System.Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development
The Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, also called Framework Programmes or abbreviated FP1 to FP7 with "FP8" being named "Horizon 2020", are funding programmes created by the European Union/European Commission to support and foster research in the European Research Area (ERA). The specific objectives and actions vary between funding periods. In FP6 and FP7 focus was still in technological research, in Horizon 2020 the focus is in innovation, delivering economic growth faster and delivering solutions to end users that are often governmental agencies.Frans Timmermans
Franciscus Cornelis Gerardus Maria Timmermans (Dutch pronunciation: [frɑnˈsɪskʏs kɔrˈneːlɪs xeːˈrɑrdʏs frɑns ˈtɪmərˌmɑns]; born 6 May 1961) is a Dutch politician and diplomat serving as First Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights since 2014. He is the lead candidate (also known by the German term Spitzenkandidat) of the Party of European Socialists (PES) for President of the European Commission in the 2019 European elections.
Timmermans previously served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2014 in the Second Rutte cabinet and State Secretary for Foreign Affairs from 2007 to 2010 in the Fourth Balkenende cabinet, in charge of European Affairs. He was a member of the House of Representatives for the Labour Party from 1998 to 2007 and again 2010 to 2012. He was a civil servant in the Government of the Netherlands from 1987 to 1998, until he became active in politics.History of the European Union
The European Union is a geo-political entity covering a large portion of the European continent. It is founded upon numerous treaties and has undergone expansions that have taken it from 6 member states to 28, a majority of the states in Europe.
Apart from the ideas of federation, confederation, or customs union such as Winston Churchill's 1946 call for a "United States of Europe", the original development of the European Union was based on a supranational foundation that would "make war unthinkable and materially impossible" and reinforce democracy amongst its members as laid out by Robert Schuman and other leaders in the Schuman Declaration (1950) and the Europe Declaration (1951). This principle was at the heart of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) (1951), the Treaty of Paris (1951), and later the Treaty of Rome (1958) which established the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC). Both the ECSC and EEC were later incorporated into the European Union while the EAEC maintains a distinct legal identity despite sharing members and institutions.
The Maastricht Treaty (1992) created the European Union with its pillars system, including foreign and home affairs alongside the European Community. This in turn led to the creation of the single European currency, the euro (launched 1999). The Maastricht Treaty has been amended by the treaties of Amsterdam (1997), Nice (2001) and Lisbon (2007).Jean-Claude Juncker
Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourgish: [ʒɑ̃ːkloːt ˈjuŋkɐ]; born 9 December 1954) is a Luxembourgish politician serving as President of the European Commission since 2014. From 1995 to 2013 he served as the 23rd Prime Minister of Luxembourg; from 1989 to 2009 he was also Minister for Finances.
By the time he left office, he was the longest-serving head of any national government in the EU, and one of the longest-serving democratically elected leaders in the world, his tenure encompassing the height of the European financial and sovereign debt crisis. From 2005 to 2013, Juncker served as the first permanent President of the Eurogroup.
In 2014, the European People's Party (EPP) had Juncker as its lead candidate, or Spitzenkandidat, for the presidency of the Commission in the 2014 elections. This marked the first time that the Spitzenkandidat process was employed. Juncker is the first President that prior to the election has campaigned as a candidate for the position, a process introduced with the Treaty of Lisbon. The EPP won 220 out of 751 seats in the Parliament. On 27 June 2014, the European Council officially nominated Juncker for the position, and on 15 July 2014, the European Parliament elected him with a majority of 422 votes from a total of 729 cast. He succeeded José Manuel Barroso as President on 1 November 2014. Juncker stated that his priorities would be the creation of a digital single market, the development of an EU Energy Union, the negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade Agreement, the continued reform of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union—with the social dimension in mind—and a "targeted fiscal capacity" for the Eurozone, as well as to negotiate a new deal with Britain.Juncker Commission
The Juncker Commission is the European Commission in office since 1 November 2014 and is due to serve until 2019. Its president is Jean-Claude Juncker, who presides over 27 other commissioners (one from each of the states composing the European Union, except Luxembourg, which is Juncker's state). In July 2014, Juncker was officially elected to succeed José Manuel Barroso, who completed his second five-year term in that year.List of diplomatic missions of the European Union
The member states of the European Union are aligned in their foreign policy on many issues. The EU is the world's largest economic union, customs union and donor of humanitarian and development assistance and thus has an extensive network of delegations around the world mainly operating in the framework of External Relations, for which the European Commission is the main decision body. The EU also represents shared political and security viewpoints held by its member states, as articulated in the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The EU's predecessor, the European Coal and Steel Community, opened its first mission in London in 1955, three years after non-EU countries began to accredit their missions in Brussels to the Community. The US had been a fervent supporter of the ECSC's efforts from the beginning, and Secretary of State Dean Acheson sent Jean Monnet a dispatch in the name of President Truman confirming full US diplomatic recognition of the ECSC. A US ambassador to the ECSC was accredited soon thereafter, and he headed the second overseas mission to establish diplomatic relations with the Community institutions.The number of delegates began to rise in the 1960s following the merging of the executive institutions of the three European Communities into a single Commission. Until recently some states had reservations accepting that EU delegations held the full status of a diplomatic mission. Article 20 of the Maastricht Treaty requires the Delegations and the Member States’ diplomatic missions to "co-operate in ensuring that the common positions and joint actions adopted by the Council are complied with and implemented".
Management of the EU External Relations is conducted by the European External Action Service which reports to the High Representative for Foreign Affairs. Delegates are generally sent only to capital cities and cities hosting multilateral bodies.
The EU missions work separately from the work of the missions of its member states, however in some circumstances it may share resources and facilities. In Abuja, the EU mission shares its premises with a number of member states. The European Commission also maintains representation in each of the member states. For details on diplomatic representation, see Foreign relations of the European Union#Diplomatic representation.Martin Selmayr
Martin Selmayr (born 5 December 1970) is a German European civil servant who has been the Secretary-General of the European Commission since 1 March 2018. Previously, he was Chief of Staff to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, having previously worked as Juncker's campaign director and head of transition before he took office. Following his appointment as Juncker's chief of staff, Selmayr was widely described as one of the most influential figures within the European Commission. After taking office as Secretary-General, he was described in a debate in the European Parliament as "the most powerful bureaucrat in the world." A resident of Brussels since 2000, he is a member of the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) party of Belgium. He is considered by many to be close to the Christian Democratic Union of Germany and its leadership, but the European Commission said he has never been a member of that party.President of the European Commission
The President of the European Commission is the head of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. The President of the Commission leads a cabinet of Commissioners, referred to as the college, collectively accountable to the European Parliament, which is directly elected by EU citizens. The President is empowered to allocate portfolios amongst, reshuffle or dismiss Commissioners as necessary. The college directs the Commission's civil service, sets the policy agenda and determines the legislative proposals it produces (the Commission is the only body that can propose EU laws).
The President of the Commission also represents the EU abroad, together with the President of the European Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The post was established in 1958. Each new President is nominated by the European Council and formally elected by the European Parliament, for a five-year term. As of 2019, the current President is Jean-Claude Juncker, who took office on 1 November 2014. He is a member of the European People's Party (EPP) and is the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg. Juncker is the twelfth President and his First Vice-President is Frans Timmermans.Secretary-General of the European Commission
The Secretary-General of the European Commission is the senior civil servant of the European Commission. The Secretary-General, who is responsible to the President of the European Commission, is in charge of the various Directorates-General, headed by Directors-General.
His/her personal staff form the Secretariat-General of the European Commission.Vice-President of the European Commission
A Vice-President of the European Commission is a post in the European Commission usually occupied by more than one member of the Commission. Since the 2009 Lisbon Treaty entered into force, one of these is ex officio the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, with the others being appointed at the discretion of the Commission President.
High Authority of the Coal and Steel Community (1952–1967)
Commission of the Atomic Energy Community (1958–1967)
Commission of the Economic Community (1958–1967)
Commission of the Communities (1967–2009)
European Union articles
Recipients of the Charlemagne Prize
1 Received extraordinary prize.