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.
The EESC recommends ensuring legislative consistency between measures to conserve marine biological resources and standards of maritime safety and working conditions.
The EESC urges the European Commission to include in its work programme a proposal for a directive to incorporate the International Maritime Organization's International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel into the acquis communautaire in order to guarantee harmonised training and certification standards and enhanced maritime safety in the fishing sector.
The EESC calls on the Member States to ratify International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No 188, providing the necessary resources for it to be transposed into national legislation and applied effectively and, where appropriate, delegating inspection and document issuance functions to classification societies, given the current problems in coordinating these functions in some countries.
The EESC would remind the Member States of the importance of transposing Directive (EU) 2017/159, which incorporates ILO Convention No 188 into the Union's acquis, into their national law before 15 November 2019. It similarly urges the Commission to present, as quickly as possible, a proposal for an accompanying directive to include control and enforcement provisions, as was done for the maritime transport sector, in order to establish a harmonised inspections system.
The Committee regrets, however, that self-employed fishermen could not be covered by the directive's scope, due to the social partners' lack of remit to negotiate on this point. For this reason, and given the large number of self-employed fishermen in the EU, it is necessary for the Member States to ratify Convention No 188.
Moreover, the Committee urges the Commission to complete the process of regulating the fisheries sector by means of an accompanying directive including control and enforcement provisions, in order to ensure an inspection system that does not discriminate between different European fleets or waters when it comes to interpreting and applying the directive.
Moreover, the EESC emphasises that the landing obligation requires more room for storing by-catches that can no longer be discarded at sea, and generates greater fuel consumption due to the restricted space for target species, together with additional costs relating to unloading, manual classification, weighing and processing. It also points out that this creates a hazard to on-board safety and vessel stability, as it results in both more numerous and higher stacks of crates in the hold, entailing a danger of suspended loads falling
In addition, fish that are too small cannot be marketed for direct human consumption. This leads to fish being wasted, especially in the southern EU Member States which do not have fishmeal plants, and reduces the income of fishers, who receive a derisory price for these catches
This reveals a legal conflict between Article 15 of the CFP on the landing obligation and Convention No 188, particularly its rules on rest hours (Article 14). The EESC urges the European Commission to carry out an impact analysis and to propose appropriate measures to resolve the legal inconsistencies between the various legal instruments adopted by the EU, inconsistencies for which fishermen are paying the price.