The President of the European Commission is one of the most powerful officeholders in the EU, controlling the European Commission (executive arm of the EU) which collectively has a monopoly on initiating all EU legislation and is responsible for ensuring its enforcement. The President is responsible for allocating portfolios to members of the Commission and can reshuffle or dismiss them if needed. He determines the Commission’s policy agenda and all the legislative proposals it produces (the Commission is the only body that can propose EU laws); in practice, no policy can be proposed without the President’s agreement.
The Commission President also represents the EU abroad. He does this alongside the President of the European Council and, at foreign minister’s level, the High Representative (who sits in his Commission as Vice-President). However the Commission President, unlike a normal head of government, does not form foreign policy, command troops or raise taxes as these are largely outside the remit of the EU.
The Treaty of Rome established the post in 1958 and is now elected by the European Parliament, on a proposal of the European Council for five-year terms. Once elected, he, along with his Commission, is responsible to Parliament, which can censure him. The current President is José Manuel Barroso, former Prime Minister of Portugal.