Although the European Commission acts as a collegiate body and Commissioners are required to be independent of all outside bodies, most have previously held political mandates in their home Member State and/or in the European Parliament. In this context, researchers have sought to put party political labels on individual Commissioners and thereafter compare the political make-up of colleges.
The first set of illustrations shows the make-up of the four most recent colleges (at the beginning of their terms). The second illustration shows each college since the Commission came into existence in 1958, and shows how the political balance has evolved over time.
The political categorisations below are adapted from those used in the source for this material – the PEU database of the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre – but they broadly correspond to the political groups in the European Parliament today, as follows: Christian Democrat/Centre-right – EPP plus ECR (or EDG in the past); Social Democrat – S&D; Liberal – ALDE; Green – Greens/EFA; Communist (no longer a group in its own right). Certain Commissioners in earlier Colleges were regarded as independents, outwith any of the European political groups or families.