The European Economic and Social Committee has been an ardent supporter of the Eastern Partnership from the very outset and the EESC's Employers' Group has continually emphasised the need to strengthen the partnership's economic dimension. An appropriate tool was needed to enable the representatives of employers, entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises from the EU and its partner countries to meet and openly assess the process of convergence with the European acquis and its impact on the economic situation.
The EESC's activities concerning Eastern Neighbours involve Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The main objective of the EESC with regard to the European Eastern Neighbours is to enhance relations with civil society organisations in the region and to involve them in a dialogue with both their national policy makers and the EU organised civil society.
The main cooperation mechanisms with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are the Civil Society Platforms which complement the political bodies existing within the framework of the EU Association Agreements with these countries. The Platforms allow civil society organisations from both the EU and the partner country side to monitor the implementation process and prepare their recommendations to the relevant authorities.
On the EU side, these Platforms comprise members of the EESC as well as representatives from large European civil society networks. On the partner country side, they represent a broad spectrum of civil society organizations. The membership of the Platforms is based on balanced representation of all interest groups (employers' organizations, trade unions and various interests' groups).
Within the EESC, the Eastern Neighbours Follow-up Committee was established in 2004 as a dedicated body responsible for relations with civil society in the Eastern Neighbourhood countries. The Follow-up Committee usually meets four times a year and its members take active part in the Eastern Partnership activities such as EaP multilateral platforms and the EaP Civil Society Forum.
The EU is highly dependent on energy resources. More than a half of EU energy consumption is linked to imports. Increasing instability in the Middle East together with the deterioration of EU-Russia relations mean that energy security will remain at the top of the EU's agenda in the coming years. How can we achieve a true energy union? How can interconnectivity be increased between Member States? What should the ideal energy mix look like and how can energy efficiency be increased within the EU? The publication summarises the debate that seeks answers to these questions.
Members' conclusions after the conference held in Vilnius on 25 October
The main messages of the 6 EESC opinions on Eastern Partnership.