This is a list of presidents of the institutions of the European Union (EU). Each of the institutions is headed by a president or a presidency, with some being more prominent than others. Most go back to 1957 but others, such as the presidents of the Court of Auditors or the Central Bank have been created recently.
The duty of the European Council president is primarily that of preparing and chairing the meetings of the European Council. The position became 30-month appointed position, elected by the members of the European Council, in 2009 by virtue of the Treaty of Lisbon. Before, it rotated around between the head of state or government of the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (see below). This longer term President of the European Council has been described directly by some as a new "President of the European Union". According to the Financial Times, "the president would have few formal powers, but would give the EU strategic leadership and represent the bloc on the world stage on issues such as climate change, bilateral relations and development."
The President of the European Commission is head of the 27-member college of Commissioners. The Commission's responsibilities include drafting legislative proposals and managing the day to day running of the EU. It is also responsible for a degree of the EU's external representation, for example attending G8 meetings. The Commission President is proposed by the European Council, who take account of the previous European Elections, before being elected by the European Parliament for a five-year mandate. It has been described by some as the "President of the European Union" but a more common analogy is "Prime Minister of the European Union" given the style of position over a cabinet government.
The Presidency of the Council of the European Union (Council of Ministers) is rotated between member states of every 6 months. The Council is composed of the relevant national ministers depending on the topic being discussed with minister from the state holding the presidency charing. The country holding the Presidency is able to affect the overall policy direction for the six months. Since 2007, the Presidency has been co-ordinated every 18 months by three countries (a "triplet"), though one still takes a lead position every 6 months.
The President of the European Parliament presides over the plenary of the Parliament, which is one-half of the legislative branch of the Union. The President also chairs the Bureau and Conference of Presidents as well as representing the Parliament. The President's role is similar to that of a speaker in a national parliament, but also represents the Parliament externally and vis a vis the other institutions, which is a more political role.
The President of the European Court of Justice is elected from among the judges every three years (renewable term). The president presides over hearings and deliberations, directing judicial business and administration (for example, the time table of the Court and Grand Chamber). He or she also assigns cases to the chambers for inquiries and appoints a judge as a rapporteur. The current president is Vassilios Skouris.