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The Powers of the President

How is the European Commission President appointed and what powers go with the position? Here's a brief summary.


Now Romano Prodi occupies the EU's top position, but who is next?

The European Commission's president is appointed by the European Council, which consists of representatives of the governments of the member states. Their choice must be approved by the European Parliament.

The president appoints the other members of the Commission, in agreement with the governments of the member states.

Influential position

The Commission has the right to impose its decisions on the member states, a fact that makes the Commission arguably the most controversial of the EU's institutions.

Generally, it's the president's job to organize the Commission's work. As the head of the only EU body that can propose legislation, the Commission president decides on the top political priorities. He calls and presides over meetings of the Commission, and can assign the members specific tasks or set up working groups to deal with particular issues.

As the Commission's representative, the president attends meetings of the European Council and attends the major debates of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The president also attends summits of the G8 group of leading industrialized nations.

Past European Commission PresidentsWalter Hallstein, Germany. 1958 - 1967
Jean Ray, Belgium. 1967 - 1970
Franco Maria Malfatti, Italy. 1970 - 1972
Sicco L. Mansholt, Netherlands. 1972 - 1972
Francis-Xavier Ortoli, France. 1973 - 1976
Roy Jenkins, United Kingdom. 1977 - 1980
Gaston Edmont Thorn, Luxembourg. 1981 - 1984
Jacques Delors, France. 1985 - 1995
Jacques Santer, Luxembourg. 1994 - 1999
Romano Prodi, Italy. 1999 - present

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