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 EESC warmly welcomes the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which represent a breakthrough in multilateral cooperation, in the sense that they put social and human development on a par with economic progress, and see these three dimensions as a whole. Whereas the MDGs addressed primarily developing countries, this new Agenda is a transformational and universal agenda for all countries, and promotes a new, inclusive and participatory method of decision-making.
The Committee is convinced that, as the European Union (EU) plays an important international role in terms of diplomacy, the promotion of human rights, trade, development and humanitarian aid, as well as in working with multilateral organisations and bilaterally with third countries, it can have a huge influence on the process of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at global level. However, the voluntary reporting on implementation may undermine the coherent, effective and measurable implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Therefore, the EESC calls on the EU to approach the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as an obligation and opportunity to shape future EU policies and programmes.
The Committee is of the opinion that the EU institutions and the Member States urgently need to agree on the way forward at the highest political level through an interinstitutional agreement between the Commission, the Council and the Parliament in order to establish a robust basis for further political action.
The Committee calls upon the European Commission to address the way in which the instruments of external action factor in the 2030 Agenda. The mapping exercise of external policies is the first step, and needs to be flanked by a detailed and comprehensive gap analysis and assessment in order to identify the real gaps that exist between current external policies and programmes and the future ones that should fully include, mainstream and integrate, in a balanced and fair way, the economic, social and environmental pillars of the 2030 Agenda. The Committee calls upon the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy to establish effective mechanisms to coordinate official development assistance and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda in a coherent way, so as to ensure that ODA goes to partnerships and specific programmes and projects that are developed in accordance with the three pillars of the 2030 Agenda.
Moreover, The European Commission should promote the multi-stakeholder-led governance model in its external policies and programmes, making civil society organisations in third countries real partners in the implementation of the SDGs. Transparency, accountability and partnership should underpin this new approach to consultation and participatory decision making. The democratic implementation of the 2030 Agenda requires full inclusion of civil society organisations at all stages, including monitoring and review.