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.
Fair prices for both farmers and consumers and truthful and transparent information are essential if the primary sector and consumers are to play their key role in guaranteeing strategic autonomy in European food production. This sovereignty must be in line with the European Green Deal's Farm to Fork strategy, which requires an adjustment of current food policies.
Strengthening local and regional food production and processing within the EU and guaranteeing decent working conditions for all workers in agriculture and the wider food sector are important objectives in seeking to improve the sustainability of the European food supply chain. Other aspects of key importance to sustainability are fair international trading practices, encouraging more women and young people into the farming sector, and structured stakeholder involvement and dialogue.
In times where the impact of climate change can already be felt in agriculture, it is very likely that environmental degradation will also put pressure on our food system.
The European Union has already realised this challenge and has come up with proposals to meet these challenges on time. Food 2030 and Food 2050 are key proposals for what needs to be done in the next legislature 2019-2014.
Food plays a central role in people's lives and diets must be tackled from a nutritional and health point of view as well as from an environmental, economic, social and cultural angle. To facilitate such a comprehensive approach, the EESC calls for the introduction of new Sustainable Dietary Guidelines in its own-initiative opinion on "Promoting healthy and sustainable diets in the EU".
EESC also pushing to extend protection to all operators
Unfair trading practices (UTPs) result in negative economic, social and environmental effects. The food supply chain is particularly vulnerable to UTPs, due to severe imbalances of power between small and large operators. The European Commission has recognised this problem, and the EESC appreciates the Commission's proposal for a directive on unfair trade practices in the food supply chain as a necessary first step; however, it regrets that it does not go far enough.
The situation is troubling. The global population is projected to reach a staggering 9.6 billion by 2050, according to the UN. But the global food production system is struggling to feed the current population of up to 7.5 billion, with output only marginally exceeding consumption.
European industry needs an environment conducive to innovative activity. We must strengthen investment in innovation and foster business dynamism. Investment is needed not only in scientific R&D but also in areas that are becoming key features of corporate success, such as design, software, data, firm-specific skills and marketing. These are some of the ideas that emerged from the conference on the Reindustrialisation of Europe: Food Manufacturing, Innovation and Circular Economy, which took place on 27 October in Milan. The event was hosted by the Employers' Group, together with Coldiretti and Confindustria.