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.
In the hot phase of the COP21 talks the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) again urges world leaders to deliver an ambitious, legally-binding agreement that will be consistent with the overall objective of keeping global warming below the 2°C threshold.
"I call on the responsibility of European and world leaders and want to remind them that COP21 is decisive for the future of our planet and in particular the people who live on it. When you are serious with the Sustainable Development Goals, when you are serious with fighting poverty, then you have to act now. Failure is not an option", was EESC President Georges Dassis again very clear and powerful in his message to the negotiators at COP21.
The EESC has been active in the field of climate change for years, following climate negotiations and drafting recommendations for European policy makers. Its key positions for COP21 include:
delivering a legally-binding, ambitious framework that applies to all countries on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities;
boosting the transition of all economies to low or zero carbon patterns;
delivering on solidarity and support for developing countries, notably the most vulnerable;
ensuring a fair transition, which takes into account social dialogue, workers' and human rights;
fully involving civil society and citizens as the drivers of a sustainable change at global, national and subnational levels.
Civil Society in the driving seat for implementing the Paris agreement
Citizens and civil society at large are ready to drive a just accord which will address climate disruptions and improve human wellbeing. Their contribution is crucial to step up action and accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy and society. In many communities across Europe and beyond, civil society organisations are already making this transition a reality. It is clear that their role and involvement will be essential for implementing the decisions taken in Paris.
Legally-binding, fair and supportive for developing countries
For the EESC, the agreement must be legally-binding, clear and transparent and equipped with a regular monitoring and review mechanism in order to strengthen mitigation commitments but also to react quickly on possible wrong trends. Switching to low carbon economies must not be a zero-sum game where workers in some emission-intensive sectors lose out and social inequalities increase. To make it successful, social dialogue is crucial. COP21 must deliver on climate finance, in particular on the $100bn commitment made by industrialised countries for backing low carbon development patterns in poorer countries.
COP21 to lead to a decarbonised future
Reducing CO2 emissions close to zero has to be at the heart of an economic transition. Possible instruments for boosting this development include greening fiscal systems, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies while promoting sustainable renewable energy sources, strengthening research and innovation at European level, supporting exchange of best practices and knowledge.
Greening the economy must be a universal effort which Europe could lead. Carbon pricing is a powerful tool in this respect, provided that it is designed considering environmental, economic and social criteria.
On Saturday, 5 December the EESC Workers' Group will organise a side event at COP21 (Pavilion of the European Union) on the topic of decarbonisation, introducing a new study (soon available) – "Fighting against climate change: a carbon price based on economic and social criteria". The study will be presented by President Georges Dassis along with Gabriele Bischoff, President of the Workers' Group.