Every two-and-a-half years the Committee elects a President and two Vice-presidents chosen from each of the three groups in rotation. The President is responsible for ensuring that the Committee's work is carried out effectively. From the two Vice-presidents, one is responsible for communication policy, the other for budgetary matters.
On the same occasion, the plenary assembly of the Committee also elects a Bureau made up of 39 members, including the presidents of the three groups and six sections and one member from each Member State. The bureau's main task is to organise and coordinate the work of the EESC's various bodies and to lay down policy guidelines for this work.
The Committee's members belong to three groups:
- Employers (Group I),
- Workers (Group II) and
- Various Interests (Group III)
and six sections, for:
- Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion,
- Single Market, Production and Consumption,
- Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society,
- Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship,
- Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment,
- External Relations.
A Consultative Commission on Industrial Change and four Observatories - for the Single Market, the Sustainable Development, the Labour Market and the Lisbon Strategy - has been also set up to work in these areas.
The full Committee meets in plenary sessions nine times a year. It adopts opinions by simple majority (the largest proportion of those voting), before forwarding them to the Council of the EU, the European Commission and the Parliament.
The members, organised in groups, sections and observatories are assisted in their work by the Secretariat of the EESC, managed by the Secretary-General, who works with two deputy Secretaries-General and five directorates.
The EESC maintains regular links with regional and national economic and social councils throughout the European Union, through exchanges of information, joint discussions on specific issues, and joint conferences. Constant links are also maintained with economic and social interest groups in a number of non-member countries and groups of countries. For this purpose, joint consultative and follow-up committees, contact groups and round tables have been set up with countries in the European Economic Area, Turkey, ACP, India, Latin America, Eastern Neighbourhood, West Balkans, Euromed, China, Croatia, FYROM, Brasil, Japan. Furthermore, delegations have been set up to follow up relations with other countries and regions such as the Mercosur and Chile.