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.
After a long and controversial debate, the EESC adopted in plenary an opinion for the establishment of minimum income schemes across Europe. The Workers' Group welcomes this decision as an important step towards implementing the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. It is a clear sign for the European Institutions, most notably the incoming new European Parliament, of how civil society in Europe envisions social protection. The European Union now needs to provide its citizens with answers to the questions of economic and social inequality - a framework directive on minimum income as proposed by the EESC would be a concrete step in that direction.
We need to aim for upwards convergence and avoid a race to the bottom with countries competing based on social rights. This proposal from the EESC contributes to this by addressing the unbalanced economic and social situation in Europe. Adequate and inclusive social protection in the form of a minimum income scheme will allow all Europeans to live a life in dignity. This would not only benefit those who are currently without sufficient protection, but also boost the European economy as a whole. As the rapporteur Georges Dassis, from the Workers' Group said: "A minimum income scheme will help the working and unemployed, and will give companies more and richer consumers."
The EESC launched the idea of a Framework Directive on a European Minimum Income already in 2013 (SOC/482). As the principle of minimum income was integrated in the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), it was again supported twice by the EESC (SOC/542 and SOC/564). Applying the open method of coordination (OMC) as the only mechanism to reduce poverty continues to be insufficient to achieve the target set in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Introducing a binding European framework for a decent minimum income in Europe, enabling minimum income schemes in the Member States to be made "decent" (adequate) is a key European response to the serious and persistent problem of poverty in Europe.
EESC opinion: For a European Framework directive on a Minimum Income (own initiative opinion)
The Commission has presented a recommendation on adequate minimum incomes today. Against a terrible perspective of more than 90 million people in Europe at risk of poverty or social exclusion, with widening gaps in coverage of social protection systems highlighted by the pandemic, and now with a massive inflation crisis growing, it is more necessary than ever.