The European Commission is the executive of the European Union (www.practicallaw.com/6-107-6562). The body is responsible for proposing legislation and implementing decisions. It operates as a cabinet government, with 27 Commissioners, one per EU member state (www.practicallaw.com/1-107-6833). One of the 27 is the Commission President (currently José Manuel Durão Barroso), appointed by the European Council (www.practicallaw.com/9-107-6551). The Council then appoints the other 26 Commissioners in agreement with the nominated President, and then the 27 Commissioners as a single body are subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament (www.practicallaw.com/8-107-6561). The first Barroso Commission took office in late 2004 and its successor, under the same President, took office on 10 February 2010.
The Lisbon Treaty (www.practicallaw.com/1-500-8458) renames the Commission of the European Communities as the European Commission.
The Treaty of Lisbon stated that the size of the Commission will reduce from one per member state to one for two thirds of member states from 2014. This would have ended the arrangement which has existed since 1957 of having at least one Commissioner for each member state at all times. However, the Treaty also provided that the European Council could unanimously decide to alter this number. Following the Irish referendum, the European Council decided in December 2008 to revert to one Commissioner per member state, with effect from the date of entry into force of the Treaty.
The person holding the new post of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy automatically becomes a Vice-President of the Commission.
The Treaty of 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 holder of this post, also a Vice-President of the Commission, will chair the Council of the European Union's foreign affairs meetings, as well as managing the Commission's external relations duties. The Treaty of Lisbon 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. Also, the European Parliament "elects" the Commission rather than "approves" it (as under the Treaty of Nice).
For further information, see: