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 European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has been hosting the event "Your Europe, Your Say!" (YEYS) since 2010. The YEYS youth event enables secondary school students from the EU Member States, the candidate countries and a Brussels-based European school to come together in Brussels and learn about the EESC and its role, and to exchange views and propose recommendations on a specific subject, which in 2023 will be "Youth Democracy Dialogues".You can find more information on this year's event on our website.
To take part, an applicant school must:
be a secondary school or a vocational training school with students of 16-18 years of age;
be located in an EU Member State, or in one of the seven candidate countries, or be one of the Brussels-based European schools;
be recognised by the education authorities in their country;
have a computer (to read and print PDF files), with unlimited internet access and an official email address
choose one teacher and three students who are able to express themselves clearly in English;
agree with the selection procedure involving a random draw (using an electronic application) from amongst the applicant schools of each country, organised by the EESC;
agree that the three selected students and one supervising teacher will travel to Brussels to participate in the main event during school time/days, i.e. on the specific dates 23 and 24 March 2023;
undertake to host one EESC member for an information session, provisionally between January and February (travel and accommodation expenses of the EESC member to be paid by the EESC). The EESC member will visit the selected school and meet the three students and the supervising teacher designated to participate in the event. During the visit, the EESC member will give a presentation on the EU's foundation and institutions and the EESC and on the main event to one or more classes of the selected school (the details of the visit's programme will be arranged in direct communication with the EESC member);
inform the selected students, their classmates and possibly all students at the school that they can follow the preparations for the event and the event itself on the official dedicated EESC webpage, and/or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at the three addresses indicated at the end of this document under "Additional information"
A school wishing to take part is required to complete the online registration form on the EESC's website before the stated deadline, i.e. by 30 November 2022.
Before registration, the school must designate a supervising teacher, who must be able to communicate clearly in English and who is expected to be the only contact person for the EESC once the school is selected, both during the preparatory phase before the event and during the main event itself. The school principal must confirm this choice in the relevant section of the online registration form.
On the registration form, the school must enter its exact full name/title and address, the name and contact details of the school principal and of the supervising teacher, and an email address to which all correspondence with the supervising teacher will be sent. Emails must be checked regularly, as the schools will be contacted only by email.
By registering, each school must accept the selection procedure involving a random draw per country, preparation of and participation in the main event in Brussels. The valid registration of a school by the deadline only guarantees the school's participation in the random draw; under no circumstances does it guarantee participation in the main event.
The participating schools (one per country) will be selected by a random draw organised by the EESC.
The selected schools will undertake to:
a) choose and register three students able to speak clearly in and to understand English, who will take part in the main event in Brussels, supervised by a teacher who must also be able to express themself clearly in English;
b) invite/host one EESC member for an information session at the school and assist with promoting the visit;
c) consider and discuss the information and (any) educational material provided or proposed by the EESC's YEYS team;
d) agree to the students' and teacher's first and last names and the students' and teacher's pictures taken during the EESC member's visit to the school being used in EESC publications and posted on the EESC website, intranet and related social networks for communication purposes (provided that every participant has given their consent on the registration form – see the section on protection of personal data below);
e) agree to the students' and teacher's first and last names and the students' and teacher's pictures taken during their participation in the main event in Brussels being used in EESC publications and posted on the EESC website, intranet and related social networks for communication purposes;
f) provide and share feedback on any news from the local and/or national media relating to the visit of an EESC member to the school or relating to the participation of the school in the event;
g) promptly inform the organisers at the EESC (YEYS team) of any change (e.g. in the supervising teacher, participating students, email address or other);
h) ensure the publication/promotion of and facilitate any media coverage and/or follow-up to the event's conclusions, both back at the school and elsewhere (for instance by sharing the adopted recommendations and spreading information about the event in general).
Any failure to meet these conditions will result in the school and its students being immediately excluded from the event.
2. Selection of schools
The participating schools will be selected by random draw on 6 December 2022. A selected school may not apply again the year following its participation in the event (but will be able to apply again in two years' time). The selected school names will be drawn in the presence of the EESC's Vice-President for Communication, who will ensure that the draw is conducted in accordance with the rules. One draw will be organised per country so that one school will be selected from each country. A reserve list of two other schools per country will be created and picked only if the selected school withdraws its application. The chosen schools will be informed of their selection individually by email, and their names will be posted on the EESC website.
3. Selection of students participating in the main event
The participating schools must choose three students to take part in the event. These students should be in their penultimate year of any type of secondary education (aged 16 years or above) and be able to express themselves clearly and understand others in the event's working language, i.e. English.
The schools may set their own selection criteria, provided these are clear, fair and non-discriminatory. For reasons of gender equality, the students selected should not all be of the same sex (unless they are from single-sex schools).
Schools must ensure that students with disabilities are also able to take part in the event. The EESC premises are accessible to persons with disabilities. If special arrangements are required, the schools must inform the EESC organisers in good time.
The selected schools must register the three students they have chosen to take part in the YEYS event. They will be required to provide an authorisation form for each student. This form will be made available by the YEYS team to all schools in all official EU languages and the languages of candidate countries. It must be signed by the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of each student and by the school principal, or by the adult student, and then sent to the EESC by email. The deadline for collecting all required documents will be specified in the email communication distributed by the YEYS team. Please make sure that the document is legible.
In the registration form, the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the student and the school principal attest that:
the student is granted permission to travel to Brussels for the main event;
the student's first and last names may be published in EESC publications, on the EESC website and intranet and related social networks with photos of the student and/or video recordings of the session (with consent);
the student will be supervised by the teacher while participating.
The student may not take part in the event unless the authorisation form is received by the stated deadline.
The EESC guarantees the protection of all personal data received in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1725. The YEYS event will be filmed and recorded and video and/or photographs will be taken and will be disseminated in line with the EESC's institutional communication guidelines. Participants who do not wish to be photographed or recorded should inform the organisers in due time.
4. Preparation for the event in the schools
A member of the EESC will visit the selected school, either online or in person, where they will provide information about the EESC and its working methods, and present and discuss the working documents of the event. The EESC will cover the member's travel and accommodation expenses. The EESC will also organise media initiatives connected with the visit. The EESC press unit will work with the schools and the EESC members to encourage the media to follow and possibly participate in the visit. We would appreciate your support for this activity.
All the key information about the event will be published on the EESC's website. The teachers involved are therefore asked to check our website regularly.
The participating schools will receive background information and/or educational documents to help students and their supervising teachers shape their ideas and prepare for the debates and workshops. The students and teachers are asked to discuss those questions in class, to be ready for the main event.
5. The main event in Brussels
The YEYS23 event will last one and a half days, during which the students will take part in plenary sessions and various workshops, under the guidance of specialised facilitators/trainers.
The students will be split into a number of small groups for each workshop.
Opening and closing plenary sessions will take place at the beginning and end of the second day event (these two sessions will be livestreamed).
The supervising teachers will be invited to follow and attend a separate programme, hosted in the EESC premises, run by other EU institutions.
The participating schools, represented by the supervising teacher, will bear full responsibility for their students and supervising teacher during their stay in Brussels, and when travelling to and from the event. The students and supervising teachers must carry their personal travel documents (i.e. valid passport or identity card) with them at all times. They must also have a European Health Insurance Card (available free of charge from local insurance organisations and/or sickness funds, or a provisional replacement certificate if the card cannot be issued in time (more information available here: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=559). Students and teachers from candidate countries must check with their national health system or private insurance company that they are covered abroad.
The participating schools and/or the parents/guardians of the participating students must have travel insurance and provide evidence of coverage for the participants (some schools might have insurance covering school trips abroad and/or the students might be covered by a family insurance policy already). The participating teachers should also have travel insurance coverage and provide evidence of this.
The EESC will provide accident, civil responsibility and repatriation insurance during the stay in Brussels. It will not take responsibility for any damage to or theft of personal belongings.
The EESC will arrange and pay for accommodation in Brussels, as well as an international return flight or train journey between the country of residence and Brussels (including connecting flights or long-distance train journeys if necessary) for the selected students and supervising teachers. It will also cover the cost of transport between the airport or train station in Brussels and its premises. However, the EESC will not cover the cost of any internal journeys within the country of residence, i.e. from the place of residence to the departure airport or train station.
The event will take place in person in the EESC premises in Brussels (JDE building, 99 rue Belliard/Belliardstraat, 1040 Brussels) on 23 and 24 March 2023. Students and supervising teachers are expected to arrive in Brussels on Thursday 23 March 2023 before the official welcome of the main event, to take place at 4 p.m. on 23 March. Their return is planned for 25 March 2023 (the exact dates and times will be decided once the schools have been selected, when the places of departure are known).
All selected schools will be informed well in advance of the exact arrangements made for the event and a practical guide with information details will be distributed prior to or upon their arrival.
The working language for the main event will be English. All workshops and sessions in groups will be held in English. As already stressed, to ensure that the working group discussions go smoothly, the students as well as their supervising teachers are required to be able to express themselves clearly/thoroughly in English.