Sunday, 29 January 2012

Institutional Architecture of the European Union II:
How the European Commission is appointed

The European Council appoints a Commission President, usually among a current or recent Head of Government in one of the member states, and taking into account the latest European Parliament elections. The appointed President is subject to approval by the Parliament. Should it reject the proposal, the European Council must appoint a new one within a month. Once the nominated President is approved by vote of the European Parliament, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is appointed, the President asks the governments of each member state, except her or his own and that of the High Representative, to suggest one Commissioner.

When portfolios are distributed among these candidates, the proposed Commission, also known as ‘the College’, must be appointed by the Council. Then, the European Parliament holds hearings at which its Members can ask questions to each Commissioner candidate and to the appointed Commission President. The Parliament may approve the entire prospect Commission or reject the entire prospect Commission, though not single members. However, should the Parliament reject the proposed set of Commissioners, the hearings will have shown who are the candidates it does not want to approve. In this case, the designated Commission President will ask the member state(s) who have suggested the candidate(s) in question to make a new choice, and again, the proposed Commission in its entirety has to be approved by the Parliament.

When the Parliament has voted for a College, the European Council puts it into office. The European Commission has a standard term of five years. Should a Commission be forced to resign, as it happened to the Santer Commission, the new College is appointed by the same procedure as described above, for the remainder of the current term.

Read more on the Wikipedia subpage on the appointment of the European Commission.

by Bjørn Clasen

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