The President of the European Commission is notionally the highest ranking unelected official within the European Union. In recent years, Commission presidents have increasingly been former EU member state heads of governments.
The President of the Commission is selected by consensus among members of the European Council and must subsequently be approved by the European Parliament, along with the remainder of the Commission. Thereafter, the President is accountable to Parliament, who may dismiss the Commission with a vote of no confidence.
As the head of the European Commission, effectively the executive branch of the European Union, it is sometimes argued that it would be appropriate for the President to be elected by the European Parliament, or directly elected by citizens, rather than being chosen by national governments. However, no such change is envisaged. Under the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, agreed but not yet ratified by all member states, the Council will be obliged to take into account the results of the most recent elections to the European Parliament when nominating the President of the Commission. Furthermore, under the constitution future candidates for the President of the Commission will be put forward by the European Council and approved by the European Parliament, who will have the final say. This differs from the present procedure in that Parliament will acquire the power to reject the President-designate specifically, rather than simply rejecting the entire Commission.
List of office-holders