The European Commission (EC) is the executive body of the European Union responsible for developing and implementing the Acquis Communitaire — the body of EC law — and guarantor of the EU’s treaties. The Commission develops Community policies, proposes Community legislation and exercises powers in specific areas. The Commission implements and manages Council of the European Union decisions and common policies, ensuring that member states adopt and abide by the provisions of EU treaties, regulations, and directives.
The EC is composed of 27 Commissioners — one from each EU member state — who serve a five-year term. The head of state or government of each member country nominates their country’s Commissioner. Commissioners, however, do not serve national interests, but rather represent the interests of the EU as a whole. One is selected to lead and represent the Commission as the Commission President. The others hold a distinct portfolio (e.g., agriculture, energy, trade), similar to U.S. department secretaries and agency directors, and are responsible for overseeing legislation and member state compliance, and for representing the Commission, on that issue. Seven Commissioners are double-hatted as Commission Vice Presidents in addition to their portfolios.