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.
Between 3 and 5% of the EU's GDP comes from the overall maritime sector, which employs around 5.6 million people and generates EUR 495 billion for the European economy. Some 90% of foreign trade and 43% of intra-EU trade takes place via maritime routes. European shipbuilding and allied industries account for 10% of global production. Almost 100,000 boats are in operation around Europe, in fisheries or aquaculture with mineral extraction and wind farm activities, also developing.
The EESC welcomes the EC document, which sets out to maximise the employment potential of seas and oceans through innovation, with specific emphasis on marine biotechnology, ocean energy and seabed mining.
The EESC recommends that in tandem with the scientific approach of the document, there is a need to integrate coastal tourism strategies into the process in order not only to boost civil society's interest in the subject but also to benefit from integrated cooperation between the two visions of the process.
The EESC recommends that coastal and island communities that are experiencing serious decline in the traditional industries, including fishing, should be fully included at all stages of the development of the blue economy so as to guarantee the correct balance between R&D and tourism activities that can create jobs and prosperity. The EESC would specify that all communities affected by the blue economy should be represented in a meaningful dialogue among all of the stakeholders. Furthermore, these communities, and more specifically islands, have clear potential here and a specific contribution to make as regards innovation within the blue economy.
The EESC is concerned by the lack of coordination of measures initiated by the private and public sectors and notes that similar tensions exist among Member States.
The EESC notes that the lack of adequate data and data systems necessary for accurate information about our seas and their potential is impeding innovation development, despite efforts by several universities and knowledge institutes across the Member States.