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Rules of procedure of the European Commission

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Rules of procedure of the European Commission

 

SUMMARY OF:

European Commission — rules of procedure

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE RULES OF PROCEDURE?

They set out the rules on the operation and organisation of the European Commission.

Article 249 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for the establishment of the Commission’s rules of procedure and their publication.

KEY POINTS

It should be noted that the term ‘Commission’ can refer to the institution itself, the College of Commissioners or the administrative staff of the institution.

The internal rules of procedure cover aspects of the work of the Commission including the following.

  • Organisation of the Commission
    • Collegiality
      • The Commission is a collegiate body. It 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 for all decisions taken by the Commission.
    • President of the Commission
      • The President of the Commission sets out the policy guidelines for the Commission. He or she represents it, decides on its internal organisation and assigns special responsibilities (portfolios) to the various Members of the Commission who are commonly called Commissioners. Responsibilities may change in the course of the 5-year mandate of the Commission. The president is assisted by the Commission’s secretary-general.
      • The president appoints vice-presidents, other than the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and may also set up groups of Commissioners with special mandates.
    • The Commission’s departments
      • The Commission’s directorates-general (known as DGs) and departments prepare and implement the Commission’s tasks. They put the policy priorities and guidelines set out by the president into action. In principle, the DGs and departments are subdivided into directorates that are themselves subdivided into units.
    • Cabinets
      • Each Commissioner has a cabinet to assist him or her in their work and in preparing Commission decisions. The cabinets cooperate with the relevant departments or DGs.
  • Internal decision-making
    • The Commission uses 4 types of decision-making procedures.
      • Oral: these decisions — mostly of major political or economic importance — are taken during meetings of the College of Commissioners.
      • Written: the legal service and consulted departments agree on the proposed acts and compulsory accompanying documents. These are then made available to all Commissioners for consideration during an agreed time period. If there are no requests for changes expressed on this date, the acts are adopted. In the case of a written procedure concerning the coordination and surveillance of EU countries’ economic and budgetary policies, a Commissioner may, based on an impartial and objective assessment, request its suspension. The president then takes a decision whether or not to suspend it.
      • Empowerment: the Commission empowers one or more Commissioners to take management or administrative measures on its behalf, subject to certain restrictions and conditions.
      • Delegation: the Commission delegates to directors-general or heads of department the adoption of certain management or administrative measures on its behalf, subject to certain restrictions and conditions.
  • Meetings of the Commission (oral procedure)
    • The Commission meets normally once a week. The meeting is generally held each Wednesday in Brussels, except when the European Parliament is sitting in Strasbourg, in which case, the meeting is held on a 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, the head of the Commissioner’s cabinet may sit in and, at the invitation of the president, state the views of the Member being represented, but he or she is not 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.
    • Where an item on the agenda has a potential impact on the EU’s growth, competitiveness or economic stability, the DG responsible for economic and financial affairs must be consulted.
    • Commission meetings are not public, but agendas and minutes of meetings are published on the site of the European Commission’s register. Discussions are confidential.
    • The Commission may only hold valid deliberations and take legally binding decisions if a majority of the required number of Members is present (quorum). In practical terms, the Commission decides by consensus. A vote, potentially secret, nevertheless takes place if the president or a Member so requests. In this case, a majority of the required number of Members must vote in favour of the proposal or decision for it to be adopted.
  • Preparation of Commission decisions
    • Close cooperation and efficient coordination between the DGs and the departments involved are essential to ensure quality and consistency of the Commission’s work. The department responsible for preparing an initiative of the Commission consults the other departments concerned by the envisaged initiative.
    • The Secretariat-General (SG) has an important role in the preparation of Commission decisions and ensures that the decision-making procedures are properly implemented.
    • The SG also coordinates the notification and publication of Commission decisions in the Official Journal of the European Union as well as their transmission to the other institutions.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Rules of procedure of the Commission (C(2000) 3614) (OJ L 308, 8.12.2000, pp. 26-34)

Successive amendments to the rules of procedure have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union — Title III: Provisions on the institutions — Article 17 (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 25-26)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Six — Institutional and financial provisions — Title I — Institutional provisions — Chapter 1 — The institutions — Section 4 — The Commission — Article 248 (ex-Article 217(2) TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 157)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Six: Institutional and financial provisions — Title I: Institutional provisions — Chapter 1: The institutions — Section 4: The Commission — Article 249 (ex-Articles 218(2) and 212 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 157)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Six: Institutional and financial provisions — Title I: Institutional provisions — Chapter 1: The institutions — Section 4 — The Commission — Article 250 (ex-Article 219 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 157)

European Council Decision 2013/272/EU of 22 May 2013 concerning the number of Members of the European Commission (OJ L 165, 18.6.2013, p. 98)

Council Regulation (EU) 2016/300 of 29 February 2016 determining the emoluments of EU high-level public office holders (OJ L 58, 4.3.2016, pp. 1-12)

last update 17.10.2017

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