Catherine Day (Photo: EU Commission)

A cabinet is a group of important advisors to a president, a minister or a commissioner.

In the EU, every Commissioner has his or her own cabinet, typically with 7 advisors plus secretarial staff and a personal driver. There is now a requirement for cabinets to be representative of a range of nationalities.

The cabinet heads are led by the EU Commission Secretary General, currently the Irish civil servant David O'Sullivan. He meets with the heads of cabinets and prepares the Commission meetings. The cabinet chiefs have wide powers since the commissioners are asked to take part in all decisions but have seldom time to do so. Only 2% of Commission decisions are taken in the Commission proper. 25% are treated through written procedures and the rest by delegation.

The Treaty of Nice makes the choice of Commissioner the result of a qualified majority vote and will introduce rotation between nationalities in an enlarged EU of 27 members. This change, if implemented, would weaken the everyday links between EU citizens and the EU Commission because the role of the cabinets would no longer be to assist the national Commissioner.

The EU Constitution proposes that from 2014 there should only be Commissioners from 2/3 of the countries. 


  • The Commissioner’s spokesperson is no longer a personal spokesperson for an individual Commissioner but is part of the collective system of spokespersons run by the head spokesperson under the direction of the EU Commission President. In the complicated EU system the cabinets often assist companies and local authorities in Member States to come into contact with the appropriate persons in the respective policy areas (directorates).
  • The President of the EU Parliament also has a personal cabinet with advisors and staff persons.
  • The Court of Auditors has cabinet staff at its disposal too.