[MUSIC] Let's continue our incursion for the European institutions. The European Commission is the only player of the European game which pursues the European collective interest, and not the national interests of those, or some countries. Do you remember this image I showed you in lecture one? The origin of the European Commission must be traced back to the High Authority, the institution envisioned by Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet in Germany to run the original European coal and steel community. Today, the European Commission is often depicted as the European executive. Its composition, as well as its powers, suggest that the EU commission, by speaking with one voice under the direction of a captain, the commission President, acts as a government for Europe. However, as previously mentioned, this is only partly true. All commissioners, one per member state, at least until now, have very different policy areas they are responsible for. Similar to European ministers, each of them has a specific portfolio like health, agriculture, transport, home affairs, trade, and so on and so forth. They act together as a college and pledge to act for the common European good and not to represent national interests. However, the European Commission does not only consist of the College of Commissioners. Behind each commissioner exists a fully fledged administration. Generally made of several hundred officials usually between 500 and 800 who have been recruited through a system of open competitions and coming from all over Europe. Each commissioner leads a commission segment called Directorate General. DG for short. Each DG tackles the particular policy area which as been attributed to that commissioner. Thus we have DG sanco, DG agri, DG trade. And each of them has not only its commissioner but also its own building. Which are all located in Brussels and spread around the town. The European Commission is the only institution of the European Union that can initiate law. It enjoys a monopoly of legislative authority. However like any other executive body in the world, it cannot adopt legislation by itself. To have its proposals turned into legislation it needs the agreement of both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, two institutions that we still have to examine. New European laws or revisions to existing ones come about usually after the inputs received by the European Council, that we just analyzed. And also upon the request of governments, often as a result of lobbying activities, and also by the members of the European Parliament. Sometimes, when the interest of these different players are aligned, there is a significant pressure on the commission to initiate legislation. It is more frequent however that the players interest are in conflict. And therefore, the commission is to mediate and somehow identify the common interest in the matter. However the commission's job is not only to initiate legislation, and to draft new laws. It is also tasked to ensure the existing rules are applied and enforced. It monitors member states application of European Law, and it can punish member states that break the rules, and if necessary, pursue them before the Court of Justice of the European Union. Consequence of the very recent Euro crisis the commission now also exercises a close scrutiny of the national economic budgets and policies. Since 2011, the commission assesses all nationally fiscal policies, economic and financial issues, as well as reforms aimed at boosting growth altogether. The commission does so in the first half of the year, during what has been called the European Semester. Then, national governments draw up their draft budgets on the basis of the guidance received by the commission and submit them to national parliaments in the second half of the year, what we call the national semester. The European Commission also acts as the main responsible for international trade and competition issues. In international trade, the European Commission (and no longer the member states) enjoys the power to determine higher import taxes (so-called anti-damping duties) on goods imported into the EU markets from countries such as China and India. It does so, when he discovers after an investigation, that manufacturers from these countries export a product to the EU at the price either below the price charged in its own market or below its cost of production. The idea is to protect the relevant European industries from what is perceived as unfair competition of the emerging economies. This practice is highly controversial and gives rise to several disputes within the World Trade Organization. In the area of competition policy, the European Commission strives to ensure a level playing field in the European market. Therefore, when companies, regardless of whether they are European, American, Chinese adopt behaviors that might lead to higher prices, or less choice for the European consumers, the EU Commission, together with national competition authorities and the national court, is competent to step in and sanction them. Thus, following a European Commission investigation, Microsoft has been fined for more than half a billion Euros in 2013, for failing to offer users a browser choice screen enabling them to easily choose their preferred web browser. Finally, the commission also represents the Union internationally by negotiating new international agreements, and is in charge of the day-to-day running of the Union Diplomatic Mission outside, and within the European Union. It is therefore, the commission acting on a mandate received from the Council of Ministers, that is negotiating the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, also called TTIP. If successfully concluded, this will be the largest free trade area ever established. This is because the EU and the US economies account together for about half the entire world GDP, Gross Domestic Product. And for nearly one third of the world trade flows. Due to its nature, and the sum of all these prerogatives, the Comission emerges today as the guardian, or the watchdog, of the European Union, and of its own treaties. It is the sole institution that pursues the European interest, and not the sum of national interests. So if I ask you, what is the main job of the commission? Let's pause here and try to think which are the main roles played by the commission. If we want to sum up, we can say that the commission represents and upholds the interests of the EU as a whole. In particular the Commission oversees and implements European policy by doing the following things: It proposes new laws to the Parliament and the Council. It manages the European budget and allocates the European fundings such as structural funds between the different European beneficiaries. It enforces European law, but it also represents the European Union internationally. For example, by negotiating agreements between the EU and other countries such as the TTIP Agreement. Which is currently negotiated between the US and the European Union.