Chapter 1.5 - The Commission - The Commission(Article 17...

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The Commission (Article 17 TEU and Articles 244–250 TFEU) The Commission is often described as a single body with the sole agenda of promoting European integration. The reality is more complex. It employs more than 34,000 permanent staff, performs a wide number of tasks and has a wide array of relationships with a multiplicity of actors. Although in legal terms it is a single body, it is best to see the Commission as composed of three tiers: The College of Commissioners; The Directorates -- Generals; and the The Cabinets. The College of Commissioners Formally, the Commission consists of twenty-seven Commissioners, with one Commissioner from each Member State: Article 17(4) TEU . These Commissioners make up the College of Commissioners. The Commission is appointed for a five-year term. Once appointed, the Commissioners are allocated portfolios by the President. Each Commissioner is then the primary person responsible for all the work of the Commission that falls within that policy area. The Commissioners are to be persons whose ‘independence is beyond doubt’ . They are required not to seek or take instructions from any government or any other body and a duty is imposed on Member States to respect this principle. In addition, Commissioners must not find themselves in a position where a ‘conflict of interest’ arises. They must not, therefore, engage in any occupation during their period of office. If any Commissioner fails to observe these rules, the Court of Justice may, on application by either the Council or the Commission, compulsorily retire the Commissioner: Article 247 TFEU The Lisbon Treaty introduced one exception to this principle of independence. This concerns the office of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy . Responsible for the conduct of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy and its security and defence policy, she is a member of the Commission and one of the twenty seven Commissioners: Article 17(4) of TEU However, she takes part in the work of the European Council, chairs the Foreign Affairs Council and acts under the mandate of the Council. The intention of this ‘double hat’ is to create a more integrated and coordinated external policy, as well as to give the Union a more salient international profile. Straddling the Commission and the Council she is subject to a double chain of accountability. She is appointed by QMV, by the European Council with the agreement of the President of the Commission, who cannot be dismissed unilaterally by the President of the Commission. The independence of the Commissioners must be seen in relative terms. Chosen because of distinguished and well connected prior careers, they have a list of professional and political contacts. They are an easy and efficient way for the Commission to maintain a link with member state governments and domestic political systems.
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Commissioners are also granted a wriggle room by only the most severe breaches of this principle being subject to sanction. In
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