European Commission

The European Commission belongs to the three main EU decision-making institutions together with the European Parliament and the Council. The European Commission represents and defends the common interests of all EU citizens. It acts as the executive of the European Union. It is responsible for proposing legislation (right of initiative), implementing decisions, upholding the Union’s treaties (guardian of the treaties), managing the EU budget, programmes and the day-to-day running of the Union. 

AGE work with the European Commission

Although the Parliament and the Council have the final word on eventual legislation, the importance of lobbying those that are drafting the proposal within the European Commission cannot be stressed enough. Once the proposal has gone to the Council and European Parliament, it is indeed more difficult to add aspects that were not included in the original draft as governments and MEPs usually tend to limit the Commission’s proposals rather than extend them. Since the Commission defends the common European interest, this lobbying is carried out most effectively at European level. This is one of AGE’s main roles.

Based on input informed by our member organisations, we inform the Commission of the challenges faced by older persons across EU countries and on the way the EU anti discrimination legislation is transposed and implemented at national level.

When the European Commission renews its 5-year mandate, we work to influence the future priorities of the Union and make sure older persons' concerns and needs will be taken on board. Read more on AGE work prior to the establishment of the von der Leyen Commission 2019-2024

Role of the European Commission

The European Commission acts as the executive of the European Union. It has four main roles:

  1. Legislative role - proposing legislation to the Parliament and the Council;
  2. Implementation role - putting EU policies into effect;
  3. Legal role - enforcing EU law jointly with the Court of Justice;
  4. Representative role - representing the EU at international level.


1. Proposing new legislation

The European Commission has an exclusive right to propose new European legislation, which means that the Commission alone is responsible for initiating legislation. Legislation proposals are then submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for approval.

2. Implementing EU policies and the budget

The European Commission is the executive body of the EU and is therefore responsible for implementing EU law, policies and programmes adopted by the Parliament and the Council, as well as the EU budget.

Once legislation is passed, it is the Commission’s responsibility to ensure its implementation. In adopting technical implementing measures, the Commission is assisted by committees made up of experts of member states or lobbies. In the EU jargon this process is called “comitology”.  


3. Enforcing European law

As “guardian of the treaties”, the European Commission is responsible for ensuring that the European law is properly applied in all the member states. It can launch a procedure taking member states to the Court of Justice in Luxemburg in case of breach of EU law (infringement procedure).

The power to enforce European law is relevant in the field of anti-discrimination legislation on the basis of age in employment. The Commission has the power to start infringement procedures against Member States which have not implemented this legislation.  


4. Representing the EU on the international stage

The European Commission is an important mouthpiece for the European Union on the international stage. It negociates international agreements and treaties in the framework of a mandate agreed upon in the Council. It thus enables the Union to speak ‘with one voice’ in international forums.

The external representation of the Commission will have to be adapted following the creation of the External Action Service. The delegations of the European Commission outside the European Union will become EU delegations.


Website of the European Commission:

Read more on the composition and work porcedures of the 2019-2024 European Commission


This website is developed with the financial support of operating grants of the European Commission.
The contents of the articles are the sole responsibility of AGE Platform Europe and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.