European Commission

What is the Commission?

The Commission is both the institution and the 'college' of commissioners. There is currently one commissioner from each EU country.

The Commission's role in the EU lawmaking process

The Commission's job is to represent the common European interest to all the EU countries. To allow it to play its role as 'guardian of the treaties' and defender of the general interest, the Commission also has the right of initiative in the lawmaking process. This means that it proposes legislative acts for the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to adopt.

The Commission is also responsible for putting the EU's common policies (like the common agricultural policy and the growth and jobs strategy) into practice and manage the EU's budget and programmes.

Although the Commission is allowed to take any initiative it sees as necessary to attain the objectives of the EU treaties, most of its proposals are to meet its legal obligations and other technical requirements or because another EU institution, member country or stakeholder has asked it to act.

The Commission's proposals must be grounded in the European interest and respect the principles of subsidiarity (in domains where the EU does not have exclusive competence to act) and proportionality. This means that the Commission should legislate only where action is more effective at EU level, and then no more than necessary to attain the agreed-on objectives. If it is more efficient to act at national, regional or local level, the Commission should refrain from legislating.

The Commission's vocation is to work for the good of the EU as a whole, and not to favour any EU country or interest group in particular. It consults widely so that all the parties affected by a legislative act can contribute to its preparation. In general, an assessment of the economic, social and environmental impact of a given legislative act is published at the same time as the proposal itself.

How is the Commission structured?

The Commission is divided into some 40 directorates-general (DGs) and services, which are subdivided in turn into directorates, and directorates into units. The Commission also administers a number of executive agencies. Additional structures can also be created at need.

In order to ensure that the Commission acts affectively and as a college, the DGs are required to collaborate closely with each other and coordinate the preparation and implementation of the college of commissioners' decisions.

Website of the European Commission 

Governance statement of the European Commission 

The Commission and Gender Equality

Equality between women and men is one of the European Union's founding values. It goes back to 1957 when the principle of equal pay for equal work became part of the Treaty of Rome.

The European Union's achievements in fostering equality between women and men have helped to change the lives of many European citizens for the better.

Although inequalities still exist, the EU has made significant progress over the last decades.

Responsibility for Gender Equality falls within DG Justice

European Commission Gender Equality website

European Commission Documents regarding Gender Equality

The EU and Irish Women

Additional links

For details on the various Topics available in this section, please select from the links below

What the EU has done for women - 50 years of EU action