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EDITIONS
Euro-glossary Monday, 30 April, 2001, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
European Commission
Breydel building
The commission acts as the EU's civil service
The commission is the EU's civil service, made up of 20 commissioners and a subsidiary staff of about 27,000, making it the biggest of the European institutions.

The commission's main job is to initiate new policy measures.

After consultation with interest groups and experts, it proposes legislation to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament who then decide on it.

Once legislation is passed, the commission is responsible for implementing it.

It also acts as the guardian of the EU treaties to ensure that EU legislation is applied correctly by the member states.

If necessary, it can institute legal proceedings against member states or businesses that fail to comply with European law and, as a last resort, bring them before the European Court of Justice.

Commissioners are accountable to the European Parliament, which is the only body with the power to sack them.

The commissioners come from all 15 member states, but have to promise to follow the interests of the EU, not their own country. Each has responsibility for a policy area e.g. enlargement, agriculture etc.

At present the big countries have two commissioners and the smaller countries only one. But this will change with enlargement.

At the 2000 Nice Summit, the big countries agreed to give up their second commissioner. Once the union has 27 member states, countries will take turns to appoint commissioners.

See also:

12 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
12 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
12 Mar 01 | Nice summit glossary
20 Mar 01 | Euro-glossary
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