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 welcomes the proposal to designate 2012 the European Year for Active Ageing. However, this title and the idea behind it do not convey what the EESC thinks this year should be about, namely that ageing should not only be active, but also healthy, dignified and enjoyable. Hence, "active" ageing should not be seen just as the possibility of prolonging working life or social involvement. The Commission is therefore asked to word a less restrictive title that incorporates these broader quality-of-life dimensions.
European years as they have so far been constituted and implemented cannot be an entirely satisfactory model. The various events and initiatives must be even more visible and more effectively organised.
As it stands, the Commission's proposal provides for no clear coordination at European Union level. Yet, coordination by a central and responsible body is vital to ensure that the initiative makes its mark and has a lasting effect.
Central coordination is also needed for putting together a budget and allocating resources. The EESC would like to see a tangible budget framework here.
If the European Year 2012 is to deliver benefits, the terms "ageing", "active", healthy" and "dignified" need to be harmonised across Europe. Measures that are comparable can only be introduced if there is a common understanding of what these principles mean.
The EESC welcomes its involvement, as set out in Article 5. In particular, it has in mind the creation of an observatory to assess events at European and national level, thereby supporting a "European Alliance for Active Ageing", which has also been proposed and which should be tasked with coordinating initiatives at Union level. The EESC could also take on the role of an "Ambassador for the Year". It would also be useful to hold a conference on the most important substantive aspects of the year, the conclusions of which should be incorporated into an own-initiative opinion drafted by the observatory.