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.


Each Commissioner is first nominated by their member state in consultation with the Commission President. The President's team is then subject to hearings at the European Parliament, which questions them and then votes on their suitability as a whole. If members of the team are found to be 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, or dealt with by adjusting portfolios, so the Commission can take office. Once the team is approved by the Parliament, it is formally put into office by the European Council (TEU Article 17:7).

Although members of the Commission are allocated between member states, they do not represent their states; instead they are supposed to act in European interests. Normally a member state will nominate someone of the same political party as that which forms the government of the day. There are exceptions such as Member of the Commission Burke (of Fine Gael) was nominated by Taoiseach Haughey (of Fianna Fáil); in the past, when the larger states had two seats, they often went to the two major parties, such as in the United Kingdom.

Partly due to the member-state selection procedure, only 9 of the current 28 Members are women and no ethnic minorities have ever served on a Commission to date. Peter Mandelson (2004 to October 2008)[1] was the first openly gay Commissioner. The first female Commissioners were Christiane Scrivener and Vasso Papandreou in the 1989 Delors Commission.

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek proposed in 2010 that Commissioners be directly elected, by member states placing their candidate at the top of their voting lists in European elections. That would give them individually, and the body as a whole, a democratic mandate.[2]


Each Member is required to take an oath before the Court of Justice of the European Union, officially the Solemn Declaration before the Court of Justice of the European Union. As of December 2009, the Charter of Fundamental Rights has gained legal force and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has proposed that Commissioners should swear to uphold it also. The second Barroso Commission went to the Court of Justice on 3 May 2010 for the first such oath alongside their usual oath.[3] The oath taken by the members of the Barroso Commission is below;[4]

Having been appointed as a Member of the European Commission by the European Council, following the vote of consent by the European Parliament I solemnly undertake: to respect the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in the fulfilment of all my duties; to be completely independent in carrying out my responsibilities, in the general interest of the Union; in the performance of my tasks, neither to seek nor to take instructions from any Government or from any other institution, body, office or entity; to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties or the performance of my tasks.

I formally note the undertaking of each Member State to respect this principle and not to seek to influence Members of the Commission in the performance of their tasks. I further undertake to respect, both during and after my term of office, the obligation arising therefrom, and in particular the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after I have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits.


Until 2004, the larger member states (Spain upwards) received two Commissioners and the smaller states received one. As the size of the body was increasing with enlargement, the larger states lost their second commissioner after the 2004 enlargement with the new Barroso Commission being appointed under the Treaty of Nice.

Nice also specified that once the number of members reached 27 then the number of Commissioners should be reduced to "less than the number of Member States". The exact number of Commissioners would have to be decided by a unanimous vote of the European Council and membership will rotate equally between member states. Following the accession of Romania and Bulgaria in January 2007, this clause took effect for the following commission (appointed after the 2009 European elections).[5]

The failed European Constitution first mandated that the number of Commissioners should equal two-thirds of the member states. This could be changed by a vote in the European Council, in case the number was still too high in the future. The Constitution failed ratification but this change was brought in with the Treaty of Lisbon. However, as Lisbon was being ratified the Irish electorate voted against it with one reason being the fear of losing a Commissioner. The Irish then voted again, in favour for the treaty on a number of conditions; one being that they kept their commissioner.

In 2009, in what was known as the 26+1 formula, it was proposed that (in order to comply with the Nice Treaty provision that there should be fewer commissioners than members) instead of a commissioner one member state should fill the post of High Representative.[6] An idea floated in 2007 was the creation of junior members for smaller states.[7] In 2004, there was a proposal to create a "super-commissioner" who would be vice president of the Commission and would "be able to intervene in all decisions concerning EU projects that have an impact" on the economic performance of the EU[8]

Another change Lisbon brought, as hinted above, was the creation of the role of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy by merging the post of European Commissioner for External Relations with the Council's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The new more powerful High Representative became ex-officio Vice-President of the Commission and would chair the Council of the European Union when Foreign Ministers were meeting.[9][10]


In addition to its role in approving a new Commission, the European Parliament has the power at any time to force the entire Commission to resign through a vote of no confidence. This requires a vote that makes up at least two-thirds of those voting and a majority of the total membership of the Parliament. While it has never used this power, it threatened to use it against the Commission headed by Jacques Santer in 1999 over allegations of corruption. In response, the Santer Commission resigned en masse of its own accord, the only time a Commission has done so.


A Commissioner's basic monthly salary is fixed at 112.5% of the top civil service grade. This works out at €22,367.04 per month.[11][12] The President is paid at 138% (€27,436.90 per month), Vice-Presidents at 125% (€24,852.26 per month)[11] and the High Representative at 130% (€25,846.35 per month).[11] There are further allowances on top of these figures, including household allowance, child allowance, and a substantial expatriation allowance (where applicable).[11]


The make up and distribution of portfolios are determined by the Commission President and do not always correspond with the Commission's departments (Directorates-General). While some have been fairly consistent in make up between each Commission, some have only just been created or are paired with others. With a record number of Members in 2007, the portfolios have become very thin even though the responsibilities of the commission have increased.[13]

Nominee Portrait Portfolio State Party
Jean-Claude Juncker Ioannes Claudius Juncker die 7 Martis 2014 President Luxembourg Luxembourg EPP
National: CSV
Frans Timmermans Frans Timmermans 2013 First Vice President Netherlands Netherlands PES
National: PvdA
Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, Rule of Law and Charter of Fundamental Rights
Federica Mogherini Federica Mogherini Official Vice President Italy Italy PES
National: PD
Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Mariya Gabriel Gabriel Mariya 2014-02-06 2 Digital Economy and Society Bulgaria Bulgaria EPP
National: GERB
Maroš Šefčovič Maroš Šefčovič Senate of Poland 01 Vice President Slovakia Slovakia PES
National: Smer-SD
Energy Union
Jyrki Katainen Jyrki Katainen in June 2013 (cropped) Vice President Finland Finland EPP
National: KOK
Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness
Valdis Dombrovskis Valdis Dombrovskis 2009 Vice President Latvia Latvia EPP
National: Unity
Euro and Social Dialogue and Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union
Andrus Ansip Portrait Andrus Ansip Vice President Estonia Estonia ALDE
National: Reform
Digital Single Market
Věra Jourová Věra Jourová Justice and Consumers Czech Republic Czech Republic ALDE
National: ANO
Günther Oettinger Günther Oettinger 2014 Budget and Human Resources Germany Germany EPP
National: CDU
Pierre Moscovici Pierre Moscovici en mai 2010 Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs France France PES
National: PS
Marianne Thyssen CD&V members in 40th anniversary of the European People's Party in Luxembourg (cropped) Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Belgium Belgium EPP
National: CD&V
Corina Crețu Corina Cretu Regional Policy Romania Romania PES
National: PSD
Johannes Hahn Johannes Hahn 2014 European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Austria Austria EPP
National: ÖVP
Dimitris Avramopoulos Dimitris Avramopoulos 2015 Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Greece Greece EPP
National: ND
Vytenis Andriukaitis Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis Health and Food Safety Lithuania Lithuania PES
National: SDP
Julian King Sir Julian King, HM Ambassador to France Security Union United Kingdom United Kingdom None
Elżbieta Bieńkowska Elżbieta Bieńkowska Kancelaria Senatu Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Poland Poland EPP
National: PO
Miguel Arias Cañete Miguel Arias Cañete (cropped) (2) Climate Action and Energy Spain Spain EPP
National: PP
Neven Mimica N mimica International Cooperation and Development Croatia Croatia PES
National: SDP
Margrethe Vestager Margrethe Vestager (2011) Competition Denmark Denmark ALDE
National: RV
Violeta Bulc Violeta Bulc 2014-11 Transport Slovenia Slovenia ALDE
National: SMC
Cecilia Malmström Cecilia Malmström 2014 Trade Sweden Sweden ALDE
National: L
Karmenu Vella KarmenuVellaPolitician Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Malta Malta PES
National: PL
Tibor Navracsics Navracsics Tibor Portrait Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Hungary Hungary EPP
National: Fidesz
Carlos Moedas Carlos Moedas (cropped) Research, Science and Innovation Portugal Portugal EPP
National: PSD
Phil Hogan Phil Hogan (37485195082) Agriculture and Rural Development Republic of Ireland Ireland EPP
National: FG
Christos Stylianides Stylianides Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Cyprus Cyprus EPP
National: DISY

Breakdown of commissioners party affiliations:


Civil service

A Commissioner can come under a great deal of influence from the staff under their control. The European Civil Service is permanent whereas a Commissioner is in office usually for just five years. Hence it is the service which know the workings of the Commission and have longer term interests. Strong leadership from a Commissioner, who knows the workings of their portfolio, can overcome the power of the service. An example would be Pascal Lamy; however, the best people are usually kept by their national governments, leading to less solid candidates getting the job.[14]


Margot Wallström
Margot Wallström has said that the EU has to get more political and controversial.

Commissioners are required to remain above national politics while exercising their duties in the Commission , but are normally involved in their European-level political party. However the requirement to keep out of national politics has slowly been eroded. During the Prodi Commission, Anna Diamantopoulou (Employment and Social Affairs) took leave from the Commission to participate in the 2004 Greek elections and resigned when she won a seat despite her party losing. Romano Prodi campaigned in the 2001 Italian elections while still president.[15]

Louis Michel (Development & Humanitarian Aid) announced that he would go on unpaid leave to take part in the 2007 Belgian elections.[16] Although he positioned himself so as not to be elected, the European Parliament's development committee asked the Parliament's legal service to assess if his participation violated the treaties.[17] Michel claimed that politicisation of this manner is part of reconnecting the Union with its citizens. The Commission revised its code of conduct for Commissioners allowing them to "be active members of political parties or trade unions". To participate in an election campaign they are required to "withdraw from the work of the Commission for the duration of the campaign".

This does throw their independence in doubt, where a politician leaves their national scene for one or two terms and returns to it for a new job.[18] Most in essence owe their positions to nomination and support from national party leaders and parties they have been aligned to; usually seeking to return to the party-political fray.[19]

Politicisation has even gone so far as commissioners backing national candidates, with Neelie Kroes (Competition) backing Angela Merkel in the 2005 German elections and Margot Wallström (Institutional Relations & Communication Strategy) backing Ségolène Royal in the 2007 French elections.[15] Wallström defended this claiming that the EU has to get more political and controversial as being a vital role in communicating the Commission.[20] Wallström has been notable for engaging in debate and politics, she was the first commissioner to start her own blog.

However their political nature can also cause problems in their habit of leaving the job early in the final years of the Commission to take up new national posts. In seeking to secure their post-Commission job, they can undermine the work of the Commission.[21] Following elections in Cyprus, Commissioner Kyprianou left to become Cypriot Foreign Minister.[22] Likewise, Commissioner Frattini left to do the same following elections in Italy.[23] During the previous Prodi Commission, Pedro Solbes left to become the Spanish finance minister, Michel Barnier left to become French foreign minister, Erkki Liikanen left to become head of a Helsinki bank and Anna Diamantopoulou also resigned early. Even President Prodi started campaigning in the Italian elections before his term as head of the Commission was over.[21]

Appointment to the Commission has the effect of removing a political figure from a country for a period of years, and this has been compared to the ancient Athenian practice of ostracism.[24]

See also

External links


  1. ^ [1] BBC: 'Proud' Mandelson back in [UK] cabinet
  2. ^ Mahony, Honor (23 March 2010) EP president suggests election of future EU commissioners, EU Observer
  3. ^ Reding says member states 'must show' they're applying EU charter Archived 20 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ [2] EU commission: Wording of the oath.
  5. ^ See the attached Protocol, Article 4
  6. ^ Smyth, Jamie (5 September 2009). "Rejection may undermine EU's effectiveness, warns Swedish premier". The Irish Times. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  7. ^ EU divided by plan for ‘second-class’ commissioners 7 January 2007
  8. ^ "'Big three' strike deal on super commissioner, French VAT cuts, 1% ceiling". 19 February 2005.
  9. ^ "The Union's institutions: Commission". Europa (web portal). Retrieved 6 July 2007.
  10. ^ Council of the European Union (20 June 2007). "Brussels European Council 21/22 June 2007: Presidency Conclusions" (PDF). Retrieved 22 June 2007.
  11. ^ a b c d "Council Regulation (EU) 2016/300 of 29 February 2016 determining the emoluments of EU high-level public office holders". Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  12. ^ Base salary of grade 16, third step is €19,881.81: "2017 Annual update of the remuneration and pensions of the officials and other servants of the European Union and the correction coefficients applied thereto". Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  13. ^ Prodi to Have Wide, New Powers as Head of the European Commission 16 April 1999
  14. ^ Former EU Mandarin Spills the Beans on Commission Intrigue Deutsche Welle
  15. ^ a b EU commissioner backs Royal in French election
  16. ^ Commissioner Louis Michel to stand in the Belgian parliamentary elections
  17. ^ [3]
  18. ^ Hix, Simon (1999) "The political system of the European Union” MacMillan, Basingstoke, p5
  19. ^ Hix Simon (1999) "The political system of the European Union". p5
  20. ^ Brussels struggles with communication policy 9 May 2007
  21. ^ a b Mahony, Honor (4 March 2008). "EU commission musical chairs begins in Brussels". EU Observer. Retrieved 5 March 2008.
  22. ^ Latham, Mark (10 April 2008). "Parliament backs Vassiliou as health commissioner". European Voice. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  23. ^ Igra, Daniel (15 April 2008). "Berlusconi victory confirms Frattini's departure". European Voice. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  24. ^ Cartledge, Paul (July 2006). "Ostracism: selection and de-selection in ancient Greece". History & Policy. United Kingdom: History & Policy. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
Antonio Tajani

Antonio Tajani (Italian pronunciation: [anˈtɔːnjo taˈjaːni]; born 4 August 1953) is an Italian politician who has served as President of the European Parliament since January 2017. He previously served as one of the fourteen Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament from 2014 to 2016, European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship from 2010 to 2014 and European Commissioner for Transport from 2008 to 2010. He has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Italy since 2014 and previously from 1994 to 2008. In the run-up to the 2018 Italian General Election, he announced on his Twitter account that he would make himself available, "to serve Italy", on behalf of Forza Italia, but that "all further decisions will now be taken by our fellow citizens and the President of the Republic".


Within the European Union, a directorate-general is a branch of an administration dedicated to a specific field of expertise.

The European Commission: Commission Directorates-General are each headed by a director-general, who reports to the European Commissioner in charge of (i.e. politically responsible for) the corresponding policy area;

The European Patent Office: EPO Directorates-General;

The Secretariat of the European Parliament: Parliament Directorates-General.

The General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union: Council Directorates-general.

European Civil Service

The European Civil Service is a generic term applied to all staff serving the institutions and agencies of the European Union (EU). Although recruitment is sometimes done jointly, each institution is responsible for its own internal structures and hierarchies.

European Commissioner for Competition

The Commissioner for Competition is the member of the European Commission responsible for competition. The current commissioner is Margrethe Vestager (ALDE).

European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society

The Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society (previously for Digital Agenda) is a member of the European Commission responsible for media and information issues such as telecoms and IT. Mariya Gabriel has held this office since 2017.

European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs

The Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs is a member of the European Commission. The current commissioner is Pierre Moscovici. Until 2014 the post was named Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud and was previously divided prior to 2010, with audit being under control of the Commissioner for Administrative Affairs. The post was abolished in 2014, when the Juncker Commission merged the post with that of the Economic and Financial Affairs portfolio.

The post is responsible for the EU's customs union and taxation policy. The European Union has had a customs union since the creation of the European Economic Community and that union extends to the non-EU members of the European Economic Area and to Turkey, Andorra and San Marino. Since 2010 it gained responsibility for audit (budgetary discharge, internal audit, counter fraud): in particular the Internal Audit Service and the European Anti-fraud Office.

European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro

The Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro is the member of the European Commission responsible for economic and financial affairs. The current Commissioner is Valdis Dombrovskis (EPP).

European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

The Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth is a member of the European Commission.

The portfolio is responsible for policies in education and training, youth, sport, civil society, culture, translation, interpretation and relations with the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

European Commissioner for Energy

The Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Union is a member of the European Commission. The current Commissioner is Miguel Arias Cañete. He is not to be confused with the Commissioner for the Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič.

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety

The Commissioner for Health and Food Safety is the member of the European Commission. The current post of Commissioner is held by Vytenis Andriukaitis (Lithuania). The portfolio is responsible for matters of public health, food safety, animal health and plant health.

European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

The Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection is a member of the European Commission. The post is currently held by Christos Stylianides.

The portfolio deals with the distribution of aid; the European Commission is the largest supplier of humanitarian aid in the world, accounting for more than 50 percent of aid distributed in 140 countries. The Commissioner oversees a total of 140 international humanitarian experts as well as 44 field offices in 39 countries, which are manned by 320 local staff members. The Civil Protection mechanism of the Commission means that the position also covers the European Union's disaster response. It provides support if a member state requests aid after a natural disaster. This function has adopted a wider scope in recent years as the Commission increasingly becomes an instrument of support around the world. For example, the Commission provided aid to Morocco when the country was hit by an earthquake in February 2004. More than 1,000 aid workers were also dispatched to the United States after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

Although humanitarian aid and civil protection falls within the same Commission and administered by the same Commissioner, each has separate strategy document. In recent years, however, there is a focus on increased complementarity and synergy between the humanitarian aid approaches and civil protection expertise and assets.

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science

The Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science is a portfolio within the European Commission. The current commissioner is Carlos Moedas (EPP).

The portfolio is responsible primarily for research and improving the conditions in the Union for researchers. The post is known familiarly as Science and Research; however it involves other fields such as technology, development etc.

European Commissioner for Transport

The Commissioner for Transport is the member of the European Commission. The current commissioner is Violeta Bulc.

The portfolio is responsible for the development of transport infrastructure in the European Union such as road and rail networks but also navigation systems such as the Galileo positioning system.

European Commissioner for the Environment

The Commissioner for the Environment is the member of the European Commission responsible for EU environmental policy. The current Commissioner is Karmenu Vella.

The European Union has made a number of environmental moves, partially in regard to climate change. Most notably it signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, set up its Emission Trading Scheme in 2005 and is currently agreeing to unilaterally cut its emissions by 20% by 2020. (See: Energy policy of the European Union)

Other policies include Natura 2000, a widespread and successful network of nature conservation sites, the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) directive requiring safety testing on widely used chemicals, and the Water Framework Directive ensuring water quality reaches higher standards.

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 European Commission portfolios

A portfolio in the European Commission is an area of responsibility assigned to a European Commissioner, usually connected to one or several Directorates-General (DGs).

List of European Commissioners by nationality

A European Commissioner is a member of the European Commission. Each Commissioner within the college holds a specific portfolio and are led by the President of the European Commission. In simple terms they are the equivalent of national ministers. Each European Union member state has the right to a single commissioner (before 2004, the four largest states—France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom—were granted two) and appoints them in consultation with the President.

The accession of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 raised the number of commissioners from 25 to 27, and after the accession of Croatia in 2013 the number of commissioners raised to 28.

Below is a list of all past and present European Commissioners according to the member-state they were nominated by, including the Presidents of the European Coal and Steel Community and European Atomic Energy Community. The colours indicate their political background (blue for conservative or centre-right, mainly European People's Party, red for left-wing or social democrats, mainly the Party of European Socialists, yellow for centrist or liberals, mainly European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party, and green for green politicians, mainly the European Green Party).

Maroš Šefčovič

Maroš Šefčovič (Slovak pronunciation: [ˈmaɾɔʃ ˈʃɛftʃɔʋitʃ]; born 24 July 1966) is a Slovak diplomat serving as Vice-President of the European Commission since 2014. He was European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture & Youth from 2009 to 2010. In 2010, he was promoted to Vice President of the Commission, a role he served until 2014. His area of responsibility includes the administration of the Commission, including management of some of the Commission's Internal Services; in particular consolidation of administrative reform, personnel and administration, European Schools and security. Since 2014 he serves as Vice President of the Commission for the Energy Union, he was previously slated to become the Commissioner for Transport.

Michel Barnier

Michel Bernard Barnier (born 9 January 1951) is a French politician serving as European Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union since December 2016.

He has served in several French cabinet positions such as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2004 to 2005, Minister of State for European Affairs from 1995 to 1997, and Minister of the Environment and Way of Life from 1993 to 1995. He also served at European level as European Commissioner for Regional Policy (1999–2004) and European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services (2010–2014); he also was Vice President of the European People's Party from 2010 to 2015.

Barnier was appointed Minister for Agriculture in the French government on 18 June 2007, stepping down on 7 June 2009 upon his election as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). He served as European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services under Barroso.

The European Commission has appointed him as its Chief Negotiator in charge of the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU).

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