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 opinion deals with the prevention of "radicalisation" of young people. For the purpose of this opinion, radicalisation is understood as a process through which individuals or groups become extremists eventually using, promoting or advocating violence for their aims. The opinion highlights activities undertaken by civil society and calls for continuing to work on a coherent EU-concept, including sustainable and effective European support, funding and coordination.
The EESC is in favour of adopting a multi-agency approach to preventing radicalisation, in which civil society organisations play a major role. The EU and its Member States should demonstrate strong interest in preventing radicalisation and cooperate more closely with civil society organisations in the EU and in third countries. They also need to give more sustainable, long-term financial support for civil society organisations, and for EU-wide coordination, networking and policy implementation.
Member States should make full use of the EU's instruments and programmes for preventing radicalisation. The EU Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) made available by the Commission needs to be geared more to local civil society structures and be better staffed and resourced. Civil society and social partner structures need to be more involved with the RAN and Member States should be more proactive encouraging RAN-like structures at regional or local level.
Trade unions have an important role to play, as they represent workers in all relevant public sectors. Front-line staff in particular must be educated in the prevention of radicalisation. There is a need for investment in youth organisations providing alternative identification structures, as well as a safe space for dialogue including active listening and personal expression. The EESC underlines the vital role played by religious communities and calls for more strategic engagement in defending the rules and values of liberal democracy. Active partnerships with business can contribute to the prevention of radicalisation. Social media also need to get involved in countering hate speech, alternative facts and extremist narratives.
The EESC highlights the importance of inclusive formal and non-formal education, which is essential for active participation in a diverse society, teaching critical thinking and media literacy. The EESC calls for a higher priority to be given to greater investment in combating poverty and to the integration of young people into society, the education system and the labour market.
It is important to shut down financial flows supporting extremist structures within the EU as well as from third countries which counteract efforts by public authorities and civil society to prevent radicalisation.