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The European Commission explained

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The European Commission explained


What is the European Commission?

It is the executive body of the European Union and is led by 28 people or Commissioners, one from each member state.

The Commission is headed by a president, currently former Luxembourg prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker.

What does the European Commission do?

It proposes new laws, oversees the EU budget, manages some key policies – for example energy, agriculture and fisheries – and represents the bloc in trade agreements, the biggest of which is TTIP, a bid to create a free trade zone with the US.

It’s also responsible for ensuring that EU law is obeyed.

How does it fit in the structures of the European Union?

The European Commission (EC) can propose new laws and decide on less important rules and regulations.

But, it cannot pass or make them law on its own.

That is done by the European Parliament, which consists of elected MEPs from each EU state, and the Council of the European Union, which is made up of representatives from each county’s national government. The make-up of the latter changes depending on what topic is under discussion – if it’s an agricultural matter, for instance, each member state’s farming minister would attend.

The Council of the European Union is, confusingly, not the same as the European Council, which is made up of the heads of state of each country in the bloc. They are joined by the president of the European Council, currently Donald Tusk, and the president of the EC, who, as mentioned above, is Juncker.

For a law to be passed, it needs a majority in the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.

How many employees does it have?

The EC is also home to the bloc’s civil service, meaning it has more staff than other EU institutions.

Brussels has produced a handy breakdown of its staffing, figures for 2016 show it has 32,966 employees.

Around a third work of EC staff work in Brussels, while the dominant nationality is, unsurprisingly Belgians, who make up around a sixth of the total workforce.

The department charged with managing the EU’s international co-operation and development is the EC’s biggest, employing 3,121 people, nearly 10 percent of the total workforce.

Does it have its critics?

The fact that EU voters do not directly elect members of the European Commission, the only body that has the right to propose legislation, is a source of common complaints from Eurosceptics, who criticise its ‘democratic deficit’.

So how does a new Commission come about each five years? A president is firstly nominated by the PMs and presidents of EU member states. Next governments nominate their Commissioners, who are then handed jobs by the newly-appointed president.

The whole lot must be approved by a majority vote in the European Parliament, as well as PMs and presidents of each EU country.

On Thursday September 15, in partnership with Google, Euronews will be hosting three interviews by prominent YouTube stars from across Europe with Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission. You can follow live from 11:00 CET on and our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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