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The European Commission

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  1. The history of the Commission.
    1. The model created by Monnet and Schuman.
    2. The Treaties of Rome (1957).
    3. The Commission of the European Communities.
  2. The Commission: Guardian of the interests of the community.
    1. The guardian of the treaties and executive power.
    2. The power of legislative initiative.
    3. Representation of the EC.
    4. The heart of the European idea.
  3. Composition of the Commission.
    1. The organization of the Commission and the preeminence of the president.
    2. What the Constitution would have changed.
  4. The current debates.
    1. A bureaucratic institution?
    2. A political or a technocratic institution?
    3. European or national interests?
  5. Bibliography.

If Jacques Delors, one of the most famous President of the European Commission (between 1985 and 1995), called the European Union as a UPO or Unidentified Political Object, it can be explained by the special characteristics of its architecture. The European Commission (EC) is undoubtedly one of the key institutions of the EU, one that makes of the Union an international organization very different from the others. In a lot of articles we can read that the EC has taken a very important decision, or that a politician of a member state criticized the influence of ?Brussels?. Because of its importance and its specificities, it's very interesting to try to analyze this very special institution, which is an original body if one considered its history, its powers and its composition. In May 1950, in his Declaration from the Salon de l'Horloge, Robert Schuman proposed to place France and West Germany's production of coal and steel under joint management. The institution that was created to manage this production (and the one of the 4 other members of the European Coal and Steel Community) was the High Authority. It consisted in 9 members, and sat in Luxembourg.

[...] The Council is the institution of intergovernmental negotiations and representation of national interests, whereas the Commission should remain the ?watchdog? of the European interest. There's however a contradiction in the appointment process. As the governments are responsible for the choice of their ?national? Commissioner, they tend to nominate someone that will defend their views and interests The fact that large states (Germany, UK, France, Italy, and Spain) were reluctant in accepting to lose one of their two commissioners symbolized this idea. [...]

[...] However, the idea seems now to be that the Commission should reflect the composition of the European Parliament as it plays a greater role in the European decision making process. This was indeed clearly stated in the Constitutional Treaty. The idea is too link the works of the Commission and of the Parliament. Thus, after the 2004 elections, the President of the Commission was a liberal, linked to the European People Party which is the largest party. But the EPP has no majority and there are Commissioners from the Liberal and Socialist parties. [...]

[...] The Commission has the power to investigate, ask for information (art TEC) and initiate infringement proceedings at the European Court of Justice. It can sanction with fines (for instance when governments did not abide by the Stability and Growth Pact's requirements) and for instance, for the control of mergers, refuse to give its authorization. The power of legislative initiative The Commission has a quasi monopoly to formally propose and draft legislation in the fields of competence of the European Community (the 1st pillar). [...]

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