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.
At the beginning of the New Year, the European Citizens' Initiative took a new turn, proposing a simplified procedure and greater support for the organisers. The 2020 (ninth) ECI Day was marked by a major development: the entry into force of the new regulation, which made substantial improvements and changes to the instrument. Moreover, the impressive 16 new ECIs registered by the European Commission in 2019 are evidence of major societal change. Citizens and civil society are seizing the opportunity to use participatory means to have a say in political processes and they are not restricted by the calendar of elections when it comes to expressing their views. They act when they see cause for action and expect their representatives to interact and to respond while they are in power.
Citizen participation and consultation in the era of new technologies are becoming a common way of doing politics these days, and may become an essential part of our political life in the near future. However, it is not just digital ease that is affecting our interaction with the state and its institutions. More deliberative patterns in public consultations, such as citizen sampling or citizens' assemblies, can be seen across Europe as people search for new ways to supplement democratic processes where they have become disenchanted with, and are challenging, the "usual" way of doing politics.
How do we see the future for the European Citizens' Initiative in the context of the digital era? How will the new societal trends affect the role of elections and our representative democracies? What do our elected representatives need to know today to govern efficiently and democratically tomorrow?
Imagine the participatory democracy of tomorrow
ECI Day 2020 set the very ambitious objective of analysing today's trends in a way that would enable us to picture the new digital democracies of tomorrow. Our plenary debate tracked back the origins of the ECI and then focused on a more global view of citizens' participation in general, with a view to putting the ECI in the context of topical societal developments. This interactive panel fed into the pan-European discussion on digitilisation and participation. We gave you the most up-to-date research and vision of participation today and a window onto the future. Your questions and arguments fed into the recommendations that we were drafted after the morning debate and which were presented to Commissioner Dubravka Šuica, Vice President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography, responsible for the conference on the Future of Europe.
The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) is a welcome instrument for participatory democracy at European level. Introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, it entered into force in 2012 and allows Europeans to make legislative proposals and participate in decision-making by connecting directly with EU institutions. It is a chance for them to discuss and influence key policies and it sheds further light on the public's view of the EU's agenda and priorities. The ECI Day is an important forum and platform where registered and future ECI organisers and stakeholders can exchange information and experiences and present their ECI and activities to the public. As in the past, stands were available for ECI organisers and conference partners.