- Commission of the European Union
technically the civil service of the European Union (EU). As the European Parliament has not yet assumed its predominant role, however, the Commission is the dynamo of development of the European Communities. It is charged with upholding European law and does so by gathering information and instigating action before the Court of Justice of the European Communities, but before doing so reminds the member state governments of their obligations and issues a reasoned opinion on the matter. It can impose fines on undertakings and natural persons, and those fines are enforceable in the member states. It is use of this power that has made the Communities' competition law of significance to international commerce. It issues recommendations and opinions. It makes executive decisions, and the Commission is specially entrusted with the functioning and development of the common market. It legislates by virtue of powers delegated by the Council of the European Union. The Commission's legislative input is derived from the fact that frequently the Council can act only after receiving an opinion from the Commission. The Council can, however, ask the Commission to submit proposals, and on the basis of the cooperation that is at the core of Community organisation, these will be treated with respect. The Commission prepares a preliminary draft budget and sets the non-compulsory expenditures' maximum level. Once the budget is determined, the Commission implements it, following the rules laid down by the Council. It then submits its accounts to Council and the Parliament. Finally, the Commission is responsible for external relations.The Commission is made up of 20 Commissioners. It must have one national of each member state and has two from Germany and Spain. They are, however, appointed as independent members of a supranational body. They are appointed by the member states for a period of five years. As a result of recent treaties, the President of the Commission is chosen by EU heads of state or government meeting in the European Council. This choice has to be approved by the European Parliament. The other members of the Commission are nominated by the governments of the member states in agreement with the new Commission President.The whole Commission is subject to a collective vote of approval by the European Parliament. The Commission may be removed by the Parliament and once was. In 1994 the Parliament actually exercised its constitutional power to dismiss the Commission, thereby demonstrating the founders' intention that eventually the Parliament would drive Europe and the Commission would revert to its intended role as the civil service.Most of the Commission's work is carried out through a hierarchical system. Its functions are carried out by directorates-general commanded by directors-general and referred to by name. These are further subdivided into units commanded by heads of unit. The Commission also has a secretariat-general and a legal service. See also Council of Europe.
Collins dictionary of law. W. J. Stewart. 2001.