The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's326 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
Enhancing the resilience and sustainability of the EU economy has become more important than ever, given the challenges that the EU is currently facing: recovering from the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating the effects on the EU economy of the war in Ukraine, while tackling inflation, addressing the energy crisis and implementing the digital and green transitions.
The European Semester continues to play a key role in implementing the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), since progress in carrying out the national Recovery and Resilience Plans (RRPs) is closely linked to the follow-up given to the European Semester's country-specific recommendations.
From consultations with organised civil society on the mid-term evaluation of the RRF (which will feed into the Commission's independent mid-term evaluation to be published in February 2024), it has emerged in particular that
national RRPs cannot be properly implemented in the long term due to delays in the absorption of funds, as well as the limited duration of the plans and a lack of administrative capacity in the Member States;
there is a call for the implementation period to be extended by the time needed to use up all the funds;
there is also a demand for greater flexibility in project selection and allocation of funds, and for a timetable to adapt to changing circumstances and emerging needs;
organised civil society deplores the lack of transparency in the process of defining and implementing the plan, and calls for structured and transparent dialogue, feedback loops and proactive involvement by means of an active monitoring committee.
Moreover, the ESG perceives the European Semester, the EU economic governance framework and the RRF as an effective way of taking European integration one step forward, while at the same time indicating ways of overcoming the crises currently facing the European Union.
In this regard, the review of the economic governance framework is key in contributing to these aims, and the Committee believes it paramount that minimum standards of national parliamentary oversight and organised civil society involvement be established when the national medium-term fiscal structural plans are being drawn up; these plans are a central element of the revised framework proposed by the EC.
To this end, the EESC's European Semester Group is bringing together speakers from the EU institutions, organised civil society, the Member States and research institutes for its annual conference on a more democratic and participatory European Semester, in the context of the review of the EU economic governance framework, to be held from 9.30 a.m. to 12.45 p.m. on Tuesday 26 September 2023, in order to reflect on the following questions:
How can we overcome obstacles to implementing the Recovery and Resilience Plans and speed up the response to the EU's structural challenges?
How can we guarantee a more democratic and participatory European Semester and European economic governance framework?
These discussions are essential for organised civil society in the Member States, to ensure the success of our joint support tools and cooperation at European level.
We hope to see many of you!
The conference will take place as a hybrid event.
Participation to the conference is open to the interested public via webstream.