The European Commission – II part
I concluded the previous lesson by referring to the Commission’s right of initiative and I’d like to speak a little bit more about this subject, since it is a very important item from the point of view of the Union’s functioning. As I have already mentioned, the right of initiative gives the Commission the possibility to open a legislative procedure and consequently, to give the European Union some guidelines complying with the peculiarities of the constitutional treaty. It has to be noticed that when the Commission makes a legislative proposal to the Council, the latter can modify the Commission’s proposal only by unanimous vote and in this case the Commission, if it does not agree with such amendments, can withdraw its proposal. But the Commission has some other very important functions. We have already talked about the Commission’s supervision and intervention power as far as concerns the correct application of the Treaty. In particular, there is a Directorate-General – the Commission has more than 20 Directorate-Generals, made up of the relative commissioners. A very important Directorate is the Competition Directorate, which, up until a very short time ago, had Mario Monti as its Director-General. This is a very important Directorate, which you’ll have certainly heard of, since the Commission can intervene in case of state aids that distort competition. Our country had to deeply modify its legislation in order to comply with the community law as far as concerns state aids. In fact, it is not forbidden to give state aids, but it is possible to give them only for a temporary period and only to certain regions of the European Union, that is the less developed regions. These aids must be addressed to companies’ restructuring, or destined to improve the economic backwardness of a certain region in order to make it competitive again. If this is not the case, the Commission intervenes and, as I have already told you, can refer a State before the Court of Justice. Besides this power of supervision over the community law, the Commission also has the power of representing the European Union on the international stage. You see that in the most important summits of the European Union, the President of the Commission often accompanies the President of the European Union, together with the Foreign Affairs minister, that at the moment is not the Minister of Home Affairs, but is the High Representative. So we have this troika structure, made up of the following: the President of the European Parliament, the Prime Minister and the President of the Commission, which are the figureheads representing the European Union on the international stage. Among the other things, the Commission makes use of some delegations to exercise its functions in third countries. The delegations are small embassies, if I can dare this comparison, that are situated in almost all countries of the world and whose function is to represent the European Union. In some cases the Commission’s delegations also have the task, for example in the ACP countries (African, Caribbean and Pacific countries)- that are the developing countries associated to the European Union- to manage the financial aids destined to the development of these countries. This happens also in the Mediterranean countries, in the Latin American countries and in Asia, too. So in this context, the Commission has also its representatives with third countries and people in charge of the management of the resources addressed to the countries it manages.
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