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.
This urgent need felt by citizens and their associations makes this year's UN Conference on Sustainable Development so important. World leaders in Rio de Janeiro this year have to commit to a concrete action plan leading to sustainable development and poverty eradication within the limited resources of our planet.
For that to happen, civil society is giving a strong signal and is calling on the world leaders that these decisions are needed, wanted and expected. We need to have public deliberations on the new kind of development we want to foster, we need open debates to promote public consensus on the measures we want our political leaders to take.
Europe is facing difficult times. The economy is stagnating, consumer and business confidence has declined sharply. These problems are symptoms of unsustainability. I am very persistent on questions of sustainability and I have dedicated my Presidency at the EESC to "Engaging people for a sustainable Europe".
One of the key priorities of my Presidency is the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June in Rio, for which the EESC is preparing on various topics and levels.
Staffan Nilsson speech on GDP on road to Rio+20_26.01.2012_en
[en anglais uniquement]
The moment for this conference is very well chosen. Only some days ago negotiators from all over the world gathered again at United Nations headquarters in New York for so-called informal contacts trying to prepare agreements that enable the world community to shape the future we want.
Because we have to be aware that they are negotiating on our behalf and on behalf of our grand-children about the future we all want to have on our planet. Therefore they need to get our messages about what it is what we actually want and that we care and don't let them go home without a result!
With the ever more evident effects of the combined economic, financial, social and environmental crises, people are realizing that existing economic models and patterns do not work any more. That we not only have to talk sustainable development but that we have to act on our words.
Gerald Berger, ESDN (European Sustainable Development Network)
... "New role of national level: SD facilitators. Sustainable Development can only be achieved with a broad alliance of people, governments, civil society and private sector, all working together to secure the future we want for present and future generations...” (para 13, The Future We Want).
Gerald Berger, Bringing Rio Home - EESC, 5 July 2012, Brussels
Doreen Fedrigo-Fazio - IEEP (Intstitute for European Environmental Policies)
..."Seize an opportunity to ask the public what it wants – build on strongest engagement ever at such an international SD conference (Rio+20: >10.000 people of 30.000) to launch an open dialogue and consultation on what the EU needs to ensure that SD is clearly defined (targets), design an effective strategic vehicle, supported by enabling mechanisms, and has active support from key stakeholders (civil society, companies/business, local/regional governments, scientific/research community, etc.)..."
... "The method of democracy – inasfar as it is that of organised intelligence – is to bring … conflicts [of interest] out into the open where their special claims can be seen and appraised...” (John Dewey). We are all stakeholders!
R K Larsen, Bringing Rio Home - EESC, 5 July 2012, Brussels