The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. It represents the interests of the EU as a whole (and not the interests of individual countries of the EU).
The term “Commission” refers both to the College of Commissioners (28) and to the institution itself, which is based in Brussels, Belgium. It proposes new legislation to the European Parliament and to the Council of the European Union, and ensures that EU law is correctly applied by member States.
Role of the Commission
The principal tasks of the Commission are:
• To ensure that European law is applied correctly (with the European Court of Justice);
• To represent the EU at international level (negotiation of trade agreements between the EU and other countries, etc.)
The Commission is divided into Services and Directorates-General (DG). Each DG is responsible for a particular area of policy and headed by a Director-General who reports directly to the President of the Commission. The DGs prepare draft legislation for adoption by the College of Commissioners at their weekly meetings.
FIACAT and the Commission
The Services and Directorates-General of particular relevance to FIACAT in its role as representative of national ACAT groups before European institutions are the following:
• DG Justice which ensures respect for fundamental rights by the EU and by all member States at national level;
• DG Home Affairs which prepares EU-level rules with regard to asylum, migration, border controls and ensures their correct application. This DG is also responsible for funding related projects in EU member States;
• DG Development and Cooperation EuropeAid (DEVCO) which is responsible for developing European policies on development and supplying EU aid around the world through projects and programmes.
Intervention by FIACAT and its ACAT network
Through the intermediary of FIACAT, national ACAT groups can therefore submit reports or documents providing updates on the human rights situation in their countries. This information can also be used in determining the annual work programme of the European Union. Through these contributions, ACAT Groups are able to influence human rights policy at EU level.