How are the Commission President and Commissioners appointed? 

The President of the European Commission

Following European elections, one of the first tasks of a new intake of MEPs is to elect the next President of the European Commission (the EU’s executive body).

Member States nominate a candidate for the post, but must factor in European election results. Moreover, the Parliament needs to approve the new Commission President by an absolute majority (half of the serving MEPs plus one). If the candidate does not obtain the necessary votes, Member States have to put forward another candidate within a month via the European Council acting by qualified majority. Ahead of the 2014 elections, the Parliament introduced the principle of lead candidates, also known as Spitzenkandidaten in German. The largest European political party following the elections would earn the right to put a candidate forward for the Commission presidency on the Parliament’s behalf.


European Commissioners

Candidates for Commission portfolios have to go through a tough parliamentary vetting process.

The European Council, in agreement with the Commission President-elect, adopts a list of candidate Commissioners, one for each Member State. These Commissioners-designate appear before parliamentary committees in hearings on their prospective fields of responsibility. Each committee then evaluates the candidate's expertise and sends it to the President of the Parliament. A negative evaluation can prompt candidates to withdraw from the process, as has taken place in the past. The full Commission, including the Commission President and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, then need approval in a single vote of consent by Parliament.

When the Parliament approves the College of Commissioners, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, formally appoints them. In the event of a substantial portfolio change during the Commission's term of office, the filling of a vacancy or the appointment of a new Commissioner following the accession of a new Member State, the Commissioner concerned appears again before the relevant committees.