Executive branch: under the EU treaties there are three distinct institutions, each of which conducts functions that may be regarded as executive in nature:
the European Council: brings together heads of state and government, along with the president of the European Commission, and meets at least four times a year; its aim is to provide the impetus for the development of the Union and to issue general policy guidelines; the Treaty of Lisbon established the position of "permanent" (full-time) president of the European Council; leaders of the EU member states appoint the president for a 2 1/2 year term, renewable once; the president's responsibilities include chairing the EU summits and providing policy and organizational continuity; the current president is Donald TUSK (Poland), since 1 December 2014, succeeding Herman VAN ROMPUY (Belgian; 2009-14)
the Council of the European Union: consists of ministers of each EU member state and meets regularly in 10 different configurations depending on the subject matter; it conducts policymaking and coordinating functions as well as legislative functions; ministers of EU member states chair meetings of the Council of the EU based on a 6-month rotating presidency except for the meetings of EU Foreign Ministers in the Foreign Affairs Council that are chaired by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
the European Commission: headed by a College of Commissioners comprised of 28 members (one from each member country) including the president; each commissioner is responsible for one or more policy areas; the Commission's main responsibilities include the sole right to initiate EU legislation (except for foreign and security/defense policy), promoting the general interest of the EU, acting as "guardian of the Treaties" by monitoring the application of EU law, implementing/executing the EU budget, managing programs, negotiating on the EU's behalf in core policy areas such as trade, and ensuring the Union's external representation in some policy areas; its current president is Jean-Claude JUNCKER (Luxembourg) elected on 15 July 2014 (took office on 1 November 2014); the president of the European Commission is nominated by the European Council and formally "elected" by the European Parliament; the Commission president allocates specific responsibilities among the members of the College (appointed by common accord of the member state governments in consultation with the president-elect); the European Parliament confirms the entire Commission for a 5-year term; President JUNCKER reorganized the structure of the College around clusters or project teams coordinated by 7 vice presidents in line with the current Commission's main political priorities and appointed Frans TIMMERMANS (Netherlands) to act as his first vice president; the confirmation process for the next Commission expected be held in the fall of 2019
note: for external representation and foreign policy making, leaders of the EU member states appointed Federica MOGHERINI (Italy) as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; MOGHERINI took office on 1 November 2014, succeeding Catherine ASHTON (UK) (2009-14); the High Representative's concurrent appointment as Vice President of the European Commission endows her position with the policymaking influence of the Council of the EU and the budgetary influence (subject to Council's approval) of the Council of the EU and the budgetary/management influence of the European Commission; the High Representative helps develop and implement the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defense Policy component, chairs the Foreign Affairs Council, represents and acts for the Union in many international contexts, and oversees the European External Action Service, the diplomatic corps of the EU, established on 1 December 2010
Definition: This entry includes five subentries: chief of state; head of government; cabinet; elections/appointments; election results. Chief of state includes the name, title, and beginning date in office of the titular leader of the country who represents the state at official and ceremonial functions but may not be involved with the day-to-day activities of the government. Head of government includes the name, title of the top executive designated to manage the executive branch of the government, and the beginning date in office. Cabinet includes the official name of the executive branchâ€™s high-ranking body and the method of member selection. Elections/appointments includes the process for accession to office, date of the last election, and date of the next election. Election results includes each candidate's political affiliation, percent of direct popular vote or indirect legislative/parliamentary percent vote or vote count in the last election.
The executive branches in approximately 80% of the world's countries have separate chiefs of state and heads of government; for the remainder, the chief of state is also the head of government, such as in Argentina, Kenya, the Philippines, the US, and Venezuela. Chiefs of state in just over 100 countries are directly elected, most by majority popular vote; those in another 55 are indirectly elected by their national legislatures, parliaments, or electoral colleges. Another 29 countries have a monarch as the chief of state. In dependencies, territories, and collectivities of sovereign countries - except those of the US - representatives are appointed to serve as chiefs of state.
Heads of government in the majority of countries are appointed either by the president or the monarch or selected by the majority party in the legislative body. Excluding countries where the chief of state is also head of government, in only a few countries is the head of government directly elected through popular vote.
Most of the world's countries have cabinets, the majority of which are appointed by the chief of state or prime minister, many in consultation with each other or with the legislature. Cabinets in only about a dozen countries are elected solely by their legislative bodies.
Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on January 20, 2018See Also