The Commission's work is steered by a team of 28 Commissioners - one Commissioner from each EU country. This team – officially known as the College – is led by the Commission President.
Read more about the current Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker.
Commissioners are members of project teams, which are led by Vice-Presidents. These teams focus on particular policy areas.
Role of the Commissioners
Though there is one Commissioner from each EU country, their job is to defend the interests of the EU as a whole – rather than national interests.
Within the Commission, they are the decision-makers. For example, collectively they:
make decisions on the Commission's strategies and policies
propose laws, funding programmes and the annual budget for discussion and adoption by Parliament and the Council
Composition of the college
- The President
- The first Vice-President
- The Vice‑President and High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Policy
- 5 Vice-Presidents
- 20 Commissioners
Read more about the current college of Commissioners 2014-2019 and their associated priorities and project teams.
Term of office
A new team of Commissioners is appointed every 5 years. The current team is in office until 31 October 2019.
How the Commission is appointed
Selecting the president
Every five years, the European Council - made up of EU heads of state and government - proposes a Commission presidential candidate to the European Parliament.
This candidate for president is proposed based on the political makeup of the parliament following European Parliament elections; typically, they will be chosen from the largest political family in the Parliament.
If an absolute majority of members of Parliament support the nominee, he or she is elected.
Selecting the team
The president-elect selects potential Vice-Presidents and Commissioners based on suggestions from EU countries. The list of nominees has to be approved by all EU heads of state or government, meeting in the European Council.
Each nominee must appear before the parliamentary committee with responsibility for his or her proposed portfolio. Committee members then vote on the nominee’s suitability for the position. Once the 27 nominees have been endorsed, Parliament as a whole votes whether or not to approve the entire team. Following Parliament's vote, the Commissioners are appointed by the European Council.
The European Commission is held democratically accountable by the European Parliament, which has the right to approve and dismiss the entire political leadership of the Commission.
The European Commission is also accountable for putting the EU budget into practice. Every year, the Parliament chooses to give (or not) its blessing to the European Commission on the way it has managed the EU budget. This process is called the discharge. The Parliament bases its decision on several reports from the European Court of Auditors and from the European Commission, including the annual management and performance report for the EU budget.
All Commissioners are equal in the decision-making process, and held equally accountable for these decisions. The Commission collectively decides on its work through written or oral procedure.
For more information on Commission decision-making, see how decisions are made.
Read more about the EU law-making process.