Balance of Composition, Role and Powers of the European Commission

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08/02/20 Law Reference this

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  1. Question

The composition, role and powers of the European Commission are a source of particular criticism in relation to the institutional balance of the European Union.

However, progressive changes to appointment procedures as well as to the Union’s legislative procedures have arguably diminished the substance of any such criticisms.

Critically discuss this statement.

“A group of countries that operates as a joint economical group and political matters, this union of countries has formed to become the European Union (EU)” (“Lecturer Notes”, EU Law, 2019). “European Union is divided under three roots- European Communities (EC); Common Foreign and Security; and Cooperation in Justice and homes Affairs” (Fairhurst, John, An Introduction To The European Communities And The European Union, 11th edn (Pearson London: Pearson, 2016), p. 19).

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“A country that joins as a member of the European Union is called a Member State. In order to became a member, the applying country needs to satisfy the key criteria which is known as ‘Copenhagen Criteria’ (it is an agreement which the applying country must fulfil under Article.49 and the principles in Article.6(1) of the Treaty on European Union)” Claire Bradley, “Member States”, Member State- European Law Monitor, 2014.

“The applying country should bring their national law in line with EU Law which is called “acquis”, before they can enter into Member State” Claire Bradley, “Member States”, Member State- European Law Monitor, 2014. “In order to bring their national law in line with EU law, there are 35 different policy fields or chapters which they have to work through to bring the law in line and complete, which can take around 7 to 10 years” Claire Bradley, “Member States”, Member State- European Law Monitor, 2014. During the process the European Commission will provide guidance and progress reports (“Lecturer Notes”, EU Law, 2019).

In order to make the right decision or to guide all these member states in the European Union, the big 5 bodies are most important, these are European Commission; Council of Ministers; European Council; European Parliament; and Courts of Justice of the European Union. “Lecturer Notes”, EU Law, 2019- The big 5 bodies are the ones who control the separation of powers, which is divided into 5 categories these are- Legislative; Executive; Judicial; Financial; and Misc. However the European Commission (EC) role play is overlapping between the two- Executive and Judicial (“Lecturer Notes”, EU Law, 2019).

The Commission is a group of 28 politicians who meet in Brussels every Wednesday; known as the European Commissions (EC), forming a government in Europe, to speak and have their own fields of responsibilities and each member is from each individual EU country (“Lecturer Notes”, EU Law 2019). “If the number of members is reduced, the member would have been chosen on the basis of a system of ‘strictly equal rotation between the Member states, reflecting the demographic and geographical range of all the Member states’ (Art 17 (5) TEU)” John Fairhurst, An Introduction To The European Communities And The European Union, 11th edn (Pearson London: Pearson, 2016), p. 39. “It is their role to defend the general interests of the European Union, when they take their oath they swear not to accept any instruction from their own government”(“Lecturer Notes”, EU Law, 2019). “Each Commissioner expresses in their individual subject and contributes to their own decision. The Commission is seen as the force behind the European Union. The primary tasks are to take the Right of initiative and proposing the EU legislation. The college of Commissioners was the first to make it possible to lower the roaming tariff in Europe; they proposed the ideas, which were then examined and taken on board by the other European institutions, which was one of the advantages that the general public can enjoy while they are on holiday. Not only that, there are few more benefits that they provide for the general public, these are- the European Commission make it sure that the sea water is not polluted, the quality of the water is entering in EU law, and if the members states would not to take relevant action to ensure the sanitation of their water, the European Commission would look to punish them in a role known as a Guardian of the Treaties. The European Commission’s third major task is to manage the EU Policy implementation and budget. The Commission is in charge of managing the European financial support that they are granted such as- all transportation projects in Europe; assisting the region and their infrastructure; controlling where the coffee which comes from and which comes in by railway way due to the European Commission. The Commission is in charge of completing tasks for the Europeans Union outside its borders (International dimension), which involves negotiating commercial Treaties with foreign countries on the basics of the mandating trusted by the Members States, also establishing the development programme in a emerging countries. For example, in countries like Africa, these types of initiatives can help to develop Coffee export. Guardian of the Treaties; Policy implementation; Right of initiative; and international dimension, these are all the section that European Commission’s work has made it easier for the general public and which they are all benefited from even today”(“Lecturer Notes”, EU Law, 2019).

The Composition of the European Commission

“The European Commission has 28 members and each member is from each individual EU country. Under the Article 17(5) of the Treaty on European Union stated that from the 1st of November 2014, the Commission is to be made up of a number of members consists to two-thirds of the number of EU countries. There is flexibility for the Council to change the number of members” Glossary Of Summaries – EUR-Lex”, Eur-Lex.Europa.Eu, 2019 <https://eur-lex.europa.eu/summary/glossary/commission_composition.html> [Accessed 2 May 2019]. “The Commission’s power of legislative initiative is clearly restated: ‘Union legislative acts may only be adopted on the basis of a Commission proposal except where the Treaties provide otherwise’ (Art17(2)TEU)” John Fairhurst, An Introduction To The European Communities And The European Union, 11th edn (Pearson London: Pearson, 2016), p. 19. There are 53 directorates-General and approx. 33,000 staff who works under European Commission (“Lecturer Notes”, EU Law, 2019).

The role and powers of the European Commission

“European Commission proposes and prepares draft legislation, once it’s passed by the Council and Parliament, it is the Commission’s duty to enforce and implement. The Commission manages budget and runs the EU day to day. They also act as a “Watchdog of the Treaties” and Administrator and Drafter” (“Lecturer Notes”, EU Law, 2019).

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John Fairhurst, 11th edn (Pearson London: Pearson, 2016), p. 39)“The Political role of the Presidents of the Commission, who is elected by the European Parliament (Art 14(1) TEU), has been reinforced. The role now includes:-”

  1. “Under the (Art 17(6)(c) TEU)-the appointment of Vice-Presidents, other than the High Representative” John Fairhurst, An Introduction To The European Communities And The European Union, 11th edn (Pearson London: Pearson, 2016), p. 39)
  2.  “(Art 17(6)(a) TEU- laying down guidelines within which the Commission is to Work)” John Fairhurst, An Introduction To The European Communities And The European Union, 11th edn (Pearson London: Pearson, 2016), p. 39;
  3. “(Art 17(6)(b)TEU)- deciding on the internal organisation of the Commission” John Fairhurst, An Introduction To The European Communities And The European Union, 11th edn (Pearson London: Pearson, 2016), p. 39;
  4. “The right to request the resignation of a [email protected] (Art 17(7) TEU).” John Fairhurst, An Introduction To The European Communities And The European Union, 11th edn (Pearson London: Pearson, 2016), p. 39

“The President is also involved in the appointment of the individual Commissioners: The Council, by common accord with the President-elect, shall adopt the list of the other persons whom it proposes for appointment as members of the [email protected] (Art 17(7)TEU)” John Fairhurst, An Introduction To The European Communities And The European Union, 11th edn (Pearson London: Pearson, 2016), p. 39

Executive function is to delegated powers mainly by the European Commission” (“Lecturer Notes”, EU Law, 2019). “Art.290(1) TFEU:- A legislative act may delegate to the Commission the power to adopt non-legislative acts of general application to supplement or amend certain nonessential elements of the legislative act. The objectives, content, scope and duration of the delegation of power shall be explicitly defined in the legislative acts. The essential elements of an area shall be reserved for the legislative act and accordingly shall not be the subject of a delegation of power” (“Lecturer Notes”, EU Law, 2019).

Art.290(2) TFEU – European Parliament or Council of Ministers can revoke these delegated powers” (“Lecturer Notes”, EU Law, 2019).

Stine Andersen, The Enforcement of EU Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) stated that the commission can use its enforcement power as a way to achieve policy objectives. “It is argued that the relatively weak powers of the Commission and the drawn-out procedure reflects member state governments’ call for flexibility in the implementation phase and hence in the enforcement phase. At the same time, the weaker powers of the Commission are offset by its wide margin of discretion. The Commission shall exercise this discretion with political tact. Its task is to ensure the delicate balance between supervising compliance, on the one hand, and sustaining diplomatic relations with the individual member states, on the other. Both dimensions are important per se and for the EU policy process more widely. The Commission is thus handling a complex, semi-political, semi-legal task. This is reflected in the notion of effectiveness discussed in the final section” Stine Andersen, The Enforcement of EU Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

“The political role of European Commission can be debatable, some recent analyses has been showed that the Commission take it for granted that the issues of their political roles have been decline, while under the current President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, it have been increased. Jean-Claude Juncker was appointed in 2014 by which more politicised process than had been used previously and whose College has sought to present itself as being guided by a political mission and as offering political leadership to the EU. In this article, stated that in the debate about the political roles of the Commission, ‘political’ has often been poorly defined and operationalised. By drawing on Public Administration scholarship, we offer a framework for analysing how and where in the EU system the Commission’s political roles might become manifest. We then assess empirically these roles in different functions the Commission undertakes” Neill Nugent and Mark Rhinard, “The ‘Political’ Roles of The European Commission”, Journal Of European Integration, 41.2 (2019), 203-220 <https://doi.org/10.1080/07036337.2019.1572135>.

Charles Grant said, “The European commission is crucial, but has its difficulties, which is unpopular by all. The commission was meant to set EU’s agenda and manage crisis, but can’t do this anymore. The euro crisis has given the commission power national economic policies, but eroded its credibility. This has made the EU force countries to cut budgets which ministers are authorised to do, while the commission can only propose ideas. Governments have accused the commission for failing to prioritise or implement initiatives. Confidence in the commission has reduced because the commission make too detailed rules and can be over active, which is due to the increased pressure from parliament. As a result, the commission has become too close to the parliament, when it is meant to be independent of them and only needs approval from them on decisions.” Charles Grant, “What Is Wrong with The European Commission?”, Euractiv.Com, 2019 <https://www.euractiv.com/section/public-affairs/opinion/what-is-wrong-with-the-european-commission/> [Accessed 2 May 2019].

The European commission has been given the power for decision making which falls under the Executive and Judicialand too much power is not useful as it can have a negative effect. Some of these negative effect are- higher structural rates of unemployment market (irregular labour markets); the most inefficient economic policies and waste of money regarding common agricultural policy; 70% of the EU budget has been used; problems with the Euro; problems of free movement of labour; and also unpopular by the government and also by the voters. Therefore it is debatable even in case of political role; research has shown that their political roles have been in decline, while the others said it has been increased.  

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