The European Commission
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The European Commission The European Commission operates at the heart of the Union. It is the main source of policy initiatives, and it has transformed the framework of the EU set up by the treaties, into what it is today. Thanks to the commission, the citizens of Europe have seen many benefits, generally in better living standards. The commission is made up of 20 commissioners, each one with a different job, and elected by parliament. The President, Italian, Romano Prodi has 2 vice presidents, British - Neil Kinnock and Spanish Loyola De Palacio. However, the commission has not done any of what it's done on it's own, it works very close to the other institutions, and to the governments of the 15 member states. The commission regularly drafts new legislation, it carries out lots of research prior to doing this, it speaks to people form all walks of life, including trade unions, governments and other interested parties. IT attempts only to find things which benefit all people, no matter where they are from. As part of the commisson's role within the EU, it must act as the guardian of the treaties, and if anyone breaks them, it can threaten of actually take legal action in the European Court of Justice. The commission must also manage policies, and negotiate international trade or cooperation agreements.
Parliament also has a 'committee of budgetary control' which monitors the use of public funds by the commission. Each year, the parliament grants the commission a 'discharge' on the implementation of the previous year's budget, though in 1996, this didn't happen because of mismanagement and a lack of transparency. * Power of Democratic Supervision. Parliament exercises the power of democratic supervision by supervising all of the other bodies set-up within the union. It has the power to set-up committees of inquiry, as it did with the BSE case. The power of democratic supervision also means that on a daily basis, the parliament also studies monthly and annual reports which the commission must give to them. This just goes to show how much power the parliament has over the commission. Each year, parliament also exercises it's power by asking the commission about 5,000 questions, either in writing, or verbally. The commission is elected by the parliament. The parliament listens and accepts all of the applications for people to become commissioners, and then listens to all of their cases individually before decided which 20 they wish to make commissioners, by a vote of confidence. The European parliament can also prove it's power over the commission by starting a motion of censure, which would inevitably result in the commission resigning.
The Council of Ministers is the supreme decision making body of the E.U. and, as such has the final say in deciding upon E.U. legislation. Although the Council of Ministers does act on recommendations from the commission, it has got the power to instruct the commission to undertake particular investigations and to submit detailed proposals for it's consideration. Council decisions are made by a mixture of voting procedures. Some measures, for instance, only require a simple majority; in others; a procedure of qualified majority is used; and then there are those in which unanimity is required. In the Council of Ministers, different countries have different numbers of votes, depending on the size of their population. Some of the larger countries have 10 out of a total of 87 votes, and the smallest countries / member states may have as low as 2 votes. A qualified majority is where a minimum of 62 votes in favour is required. The effect of this compromise is a matter of some doubt, especially as the commission would subsequently call for a vote on the new basis as son as it felt that a reasonable time had elapsed. The European Council and the Council of the European Commission are identical, as they had simply changed their name to the latter. However, they differ greatly from the Council of Ministers.
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