- José Manuel Barroso, Commission President (Photo: European Commission)
The European Commission is led by a President appointed by 19 of the 28 Prime Ministers and Heads of State or Government representing 260 of 352 possible weighted votes in the Council and is elected by an absolute majority of MEPs. Jean-Claude Juncker was elected with 422 votes on 15 July 2014, with 250 against, 47 abstentions and 10 invalid votes.
Since 1958 eleven political figures have occupied this role. From 2004-14 the President of the European Commission was José Manuel Barroso, a former Portuguese Prime Minister. From 2014 the chair has been taken by Jean-Claude Juncker, proposed by the European Parliament and voted upon in the European Council by 26 member states with Britain and Hungary opposed.
According to the Treaty of Nice the President should be appointed by a super qualified majority of at least 18 of the 27 prime ministers and presidents in the European Council and approved by a simple majority in the European Parliament.
The Lisbon Treaty provides that a super qualified majority in the Council (i.e. 72% of member states, together comprising 65% of the EU population) shall appoint a candidate to be approved (elected) by the European Parliament by an absolute majority of its members - from 1 November 2014.
If the European Parliament rejects the candidate for Commission President the process starts over again. See Article 17.7 TEU.
The President of the Commission lays down the broad policy lines to be followed by the Commission in its work. He decides on the allocation of responsibilities among the Commissioners and may reshuffle the portfolios during the Commission's term of office.
He or she also appoints the Commission Vice-Presidents, the number of which is not specified in the Treaty. He or she may further require a member of the Commission to resign.
The Commission can be censured only by a 2/3 majority of all the members of the European Parliament. It must resign en bloc if that occurs.