Member of the 28-member European Commission
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A European Commissioner is a member of the 27-member European Commission. Each member within the Commission holds a specific portfolio, and the Commission is led by the President of the European Commission. In simple terms they are the equivalent of national ministers.
European Commissioner Intro articles: 189
Each Commissioner is first nominated by their member state in consultation with the Commission President. The President's team is then subject to hearings at the European Parliament, which questions them and then votes on their suitability as a whole. If members of the team are found to be inappropriate, the President must then reshuffle the team or request a new candidate from the member state or risk the whole Commission being voted down. As Parliament cannot vote against individual Commissioners there is usually a compromise whereby the worst candidates are removed but minor objections are put aside, or dealt with by adjusting portfolios, so the Commission can take office. Once the team is approved by the Parliament, it is formally put into office by the European Council (TEU Article 17:7).
Although members of the Commission are allocated between member states, they do not represent their states; instead they are supposed to act in European interests. Normally a member state will nominate someone of the same political party as that which forms the government of the day. There are exceptions such as Member of the Commission Burke (of Fine Gael) was nominated by Taoiseach Haughey (of Fianna Fáil); in the past, when the larger states had two seats, they often went to the two major parties, such as in the United Kingdom.
Only 9 of the current 27 Members are women. Peter Mandelson (2004 to October 2008) was the first openly gay Commissioner. The first female Commissioners were Christiane Scrivener and Vasso Papandreou in the 1989 Delors Commission.
European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek proposed in 2010 that Commissioners be directly elected, by member states placing their candidate at the top of their voting lists in European elections. That would give them individually, and the body as a whole, a democratic mandate.
Each Member is required to take an oath before the Court of Justice of the European Union, officially the Solemn Declaration before the Court of Justice of the European Union. As of December 2009, the Charter of Fundamental Rights has gained legal force and Justice Commissioner