European Law Monitor

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What Is a European Commissioner?

A Commissioner is the title given to an individual who is appointed by the member states and the European Parliament to run the Commission i.e. the institution as a whole, and take its decisions. To give a business analogy, they would be the board of Directors in a company.

Individual Commissioners will be appointed to head the various Commission Directorate Generales (DG).

There are currently thirty Commissioners altogether, and when they meet, which usually happens every Wednesday, the session is known as the "college".

Commissioners have generally all held political positions in their own countries, and many have been government ministers, but as Members of the Commission they are committed to acting in the interests of the Union as a whole and not taking instructions from national governments.

A new Commission is appointed every five years, within six months of the elections to the European Parliament.

The procedure for appointing a Commissioner is as follows:

The member state governments agree together on who to designate as the new Commission President.

The Commission President-designate, in discussion with the member state governments, chooses the other 29 Members of the Commission.

The new Parliament then interviews all 30 members and gives its opinion on the entire "college".

If approved, the new Commission can officially start work in the the January following the European Parliamentary elections.