European Commission and the common EU interest

Last week, while finding out where European Union (EU) policy comes from, I noticed the European Commission was described as representing the common EU interest.

What do they mean by the common EU interest?

I initially assumed the common EU interest referred to foreign affairs and trade outside the EU. But, as I discovered last week, foreign policy is handled by the Council of the European Union, not the European Commission.

Sign post, Strasbourg

I went back to the Europa web site and their section on the European Commission, to see if there was anything I had missed that might shed some light on the common EU interest. It described the European Commission as representing and upholding the interests of Europe as a whole. That doesn't seem unique to the European Commission to me. Don't the other EU institutions also represent and uphold the interests of Europe?

I moved to the European Commission's own dedicated web site to see if I could discover more about the common EU interest. Nothing immediately stood out, but a link to the Commission At Work seemed most promising. I ended up at a Basic Facts section, where I found a better explanation of the European Commission and the common EU interest.

The description of the European Commission as representing the common EU interest seems to refer to the Commission's role in proposing legislation. It sounds obvious, but the European Commission can not favour particular countries or interest groups; its focus is on the benefit of the EU as a whole.

As an aside, when the Commission proposes new legislation, it seeks input from groups affected by the legislation, and makes an assessment of the economic, social, and environmental impact of the legislation.

It seems that the European Commission represents the the common EU interest by proposing legislation that benefits all of the EU, not just a particular part of it.

I'm not sure why this description is reserved for the European Commission. I thought that all the EU institutions ultimately existed to benefit the EU as a whole.

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Published by Graham Miln on