The European Commission represents and protects the general interests of the Union. It is appointed every five years, within six months from the European Parliament elections and is composed by 28 commissioners (one from each EU Member State) under the leadership of the President of the Commission, who decides the assignments for each policy area.
The commissioners will remain 28 until the Brexit procedure is formally completed.
The Commission publishes a series of strategy documents:
- The strategic plans are planning documents which define the Commission departments objectives for a five-year period and that describe how they will contribute to the achievement of the political goals set by the president.
- The work programme shows how the Commission plans to implement its political priorities. It provides a multiannual overview to help stakeholders and other EU institutions planning their work with the Commission.
- Every year the Commission departments define also the management plans for the year ahead and how these will contribute to meeting set objectives included in the strategic plans.
- Finally, every department and executive agency of the European Commission publishes an annual activity report detailing achievements, initiatives taken and the financial and human resources spent during the year.
The Commission has four main functions:
- Proposing new laws and policies to the Parliament and the Council of the Union;
- Managing EU policies and allocating EU funds;
- Ensuring that EU law is properly applied without prejudice to the Court of Justice prerogatives;
- Representing the Union at international level for example in negotiations with third countries for the conclusion of agreements, without prejudice to the prerogatives of the President of the European Council.
The Commission’s headquarters is in Brussels, but the Commission also has offices in Luxembourg, representations in all EU countries and delegations in many capitals worldwide. In Italy, its offices are based in Rome and Milan.
The President of the European Commission is Jean-Claude Juncker, from Luxembourg, in office since 1 November 2014.
An important role within the European Commission is played by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Appointed by the European Council for a five- years period, his nomination must be submitted to the Parliament ‘s approval. The High representative is accountable for representing the EU in international fora, contributing to the development and implementation of an EU common foreign and security policy. In his quality of Vice-president of the Commission, he is responsible for the external relations of the European Commission.
Since November 2014, the position is held by Federica Mogherini, Italy.