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Rules of Procedure of the European Commission

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Rules of Procedure of the European Commission

The European Commission is one of seven European Union institutions. It upholds the general interests of the European Union and represents it in areas such as negotiating trade agreements between the European Union and third countries. It has the power of legislative initiative and makes sure that the Union's treaties and law are applied. The European Commission manages and implements European Union policies. It also executes the budget.


Rules of Procedure of the Commission [See amending acts].


The term Commission can refer to the institution, the college of commissioners and the administrative personnel.

The rules of procedure of the European Commission set out the Commission's operation and organisation.

They cover, inter alia, the following aspects of the work of the Commission:


College of Commissioners

The Commission members are called collectively Commissioners. The Commission acts collectively. The principle of collective responsibility implies that the members of the Commission have an equal say in decision-taking, that their decisions are taken jointly and that they have collective responsibility, in terms of policy, for all decisions taken by the Commission.

The President of the Commission sets out the policy guidelines for the Commission and represents it. He decides on the Commission's internal organisation and assigns special responsibilities (portfolios) to the Commissioners. He can alter these assignments during his mandate. The President is assisted in some of his tasks by the Secretary General.

The Commission's departments

The Directorates General and departments prepare and implement the Commission's action. They thus execute the policy priorities and guidelines set out by the President. In principle, the directorates general and departments are sub-divided into divisions that are themselves sub-divided into units.


Four decision-making procedures

The decisions of the Commission are acquired through procedures:

  • oral: these decisions are taken during meetings of the college of commissioners;
  • written: the agreement of the commissioners is obtained by written procedure, after agreement of the legal department and departments consulted;
  • empowerment: the Commission empowers one or more commissioners to manage or administer on its behalf, in compliance with certain limits and conditions;
  • delegation: the Commission delegates, under certain conditions, to directors general or heads of department the adoption of certain management or administration measures.

Meetings of the Commission (oral procedure)

The Commission meets in college, normally once aweek. The meeting most often is held on Wednesday in Brussels. When the European Parliament is sitting in Strasbourg, the Commission normally holds its meeting on Tuesday. The President can also call extraordinary meetings of the Commission.

When a member of the Commission is unable to attend a meeting of the Commission, his Chef de Cabinet may sit in and, at the invitation of the President, state the views of the member he is representing. He is not, however, permitted to vote.

The President adopts the agenda of each Commission meeting. A commissioner may request the President to include an item on the agenda under certain conditions (especially deadlines). The Commission may, on a proposal from the President, discuss any question which is not on the agenda. It may also decide not to examine a question that is on the agenda.

The Commission meetings are not public but the agendas and minutes of meetings are published on the site of the European Commission's register.

The Commission may only hold valid deliberations and take legally-binding decisions if a majority of members provided for under the treaty is present (quorum). In practical terms, the Commission decides by consensus. A vote, potentially secret, will nevertheless take place if the President or a member so requests. In this case, a majority of the number of members provided for under the treaty must vote in favour of the proposal or decision for it to be adopted.

Preparation and execution of decisions

The Commissioners have personal staff to assist them in their work and in preparing Commission decisions. They give instructions to the relevant departments or directorates-general.

Close cooperation and efficient coordination between the directorates general and the departments involved are essential to ensure the quality and consistency of the work of the Commission. This coordination extends from the design of an initiative to its presentation to the Commission and during the interinstitutional phase.

The Secretary General is responsible for the implementation decision-making procedures and makes sure that the Commission's decisions are executed. It supervises the notification and publication in the Official Journal of the European Union of Commission instruments and their transmission to the other institutions.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Rules of Procedure of the Commission



OJ L 308 of 8.12.2000

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Commission Decision 2010/138/EU, Euratom



OJ L 55 of 5.3.2010

Commission Decision 2011/737/UE, Euratom



OJ L 296 of 15.11.2011


Article 17 of the treaty on the European Union

Articles 248 to 250 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union

Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 904/2012 of 24 September 2012 amending Regulation No 422/67/EEC, No 5/67/Euratom determining the emoluments of the President and Members of the Commission, of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice of the Communities, of the President, Members and Registrar of the Court of First Instance and of the President, Members and Registrar of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal [Official Journal L 269 of 4.10.2012].

European Council Decision 2013/272/EU of 22 May 2013 concerning the number of members of the European Commission [Official Journal L 165, 18.6.2013]

Last updated: 28.05.2014