The European Commission is the European Union’s politically independent executive arm. It is alone responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
It carries out the following functions:
- Proposes new laws and enforces existing ones
- Manages EU policies & allocates EU funding
- Represents the EU internationally
Political leadership is provided by a team of 27 Commissioners (one from each EU country) – led by the Commission President, who decides who is responsible for which policy area.
The EU provides funding for a broad range of projects and programmes covering areas such as:
- regional & urban development
- employment & social inclusion
- agriculture & rural development
- maritime & fisheries policies
- research & innovation
- humanitarian aid.
Funding is managed according to strict rules to ensure there is tight control over how funds are used and that the money is spent in a transparent, accountable manner.
As a group, the 27 EU Commissioners have the ultimate political responsibility for ensuring that EU funds are spent properly. But because most of the funding is managed within the beneficiary countries, responsibility for conducting checks and annual audits lies with national governments.
Over 76% of the EU budget is managed in partnership with national and regional authorities through a system of “shared management”, largely through 5 big funds – the Structural & Investment Funds. Collectively, these help to implement the Europe 2020 strategy.
- European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – regional and urban development
- European Social Fund (ESF) – social inclusion and good governance
- Cohesion Fund (CF) – economic convergence by less-developed regions
- European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)
- European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)
- Other funds are managed directly by the EU.
These are provided in the form of:
- Grants for specific projects in relation to EU policies, usually following a public announcement known as a ‘call for proposals’. Part of the funding comes from the EU, part from other sources.
- Contracts issued by EU institutions to buy in services, goods or works they need for their operations – like studies, training, conference organisation, IT equipment. Contracts are awarded through calls for tender.
Recipients of tenders, grants, or development aid ear-marked for non-EU countries are published online.
Economy, finance and the euro
Economic and monetary union and the euro provide the common foundations for greater stability, growth and prosperity across Europe.