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 3rd meeting of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform (CSP) held in Kyiv on 8-9 November focused on labour market regulation and antidiscrimination legislation and practices in Ukraine, as well as reviewed the progress of the reforms undertaken within the Association Agreement process. The civil society organisations of the EU and Ukraine strongly called for the EU Member States to push, with all necessary political and economic means, for the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, establishing peace and solving the humanitarian problems of the residents of these and adjoining territories.
Opening the meeting, Alfredas Jonuška, EESC Member and CSP Co-Chair from the EU side welcomed the establishment of a smooth working practice of this Platform, which provides a forum for civil society representatives from Ukraine and the EU to discuss the most pressing issues in Ukraine related to the implementation of the Association Agenda and exchange views and best practice examples regarding the reform process.
"The Ukrainian side of the Platform has had many meetings with the Ukrainian government officials and the relevant authorities, informing about the work of this joint body and its position on the reform process in the country", said Grygoriy Osovyi, President of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine and CSP Co-Chair from the Ukrainian side.
H.E. Hugues Mingarelli, EU Ambassador to Ukraine, welcomed the openness of the work of the Platform as well as the wide participation in the debates, and stressed that transparent public dialogue was needed in Ukraine in order to build a culture of reform and regain trust of the people into the governmental institutions.
The participants discussed and adopted reports – prepared by both sides - on the adaptation of Ukrainian labour legislation to the EU legislation, and on anti-discrimination legislation and practices with regard to the rights of vulnerable groups in the context of the Association Agreement.
CSP members called upon the Association Council to give a paramount priority to the implementation of international labour standards and EU acquis in Ukraine – both in law and practice, in order to protect the rights of workers. In this regard, they expressed their strong concern about the extremely low labour value in Ukraine, and denounced the fact that more than a third of the employed population in Ukraine (over 6 million people) have an informal or another unprotected employment, remaining uncovered by labour legislation.
With regard to anti-discrimination policy, they considered the adoption of the Action Plan on the implementation of the National Strategy on human rights until 2020 as a step forward, but regretted that the Ukrainian government agencies still ignored all LGBTI components of the Action Plan. Likewise, they noted the lack of positive actions by the Government of Ukraine on various policies for vulnerable groups, which would facilitate approaching true equality and introduce a policy on the promotion of the rights of vulnerable groups.
The Platform members also discussed the situation in the East of Ukraine and Crimea, and urged the Ukrainian Government to promote a broad dialogue with civil society on sensitive issues related to regulation of this conflict.
A Joint Declaration was adopted, inter alia welcoming the full implementation of the criteria of Visa Liberalization Action Plan by Ukraine, and calling upon the EU Council and the European Parliament to approve the final decision regarding the visa-free travel regime for the citizens of Ukraine until the end of 2016.
The declaration will be forwarded to the EU-Ukraine Association Council, the Association Committee, the Parliamentary Association Committee and other relevant bodies both in Ukraine as well as in the EU.
The third CSP meeting was attended by H.E. Hugues Mingarelli, EU Ambassador to Ukraine, Maria Ionova, 1st Deputy Head of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, and Vsevolod Chentsov, Director of Directorate General for the European Union, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
The EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform, established in April 2015, complements the political bodies existing within the framework of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. It allows civil society organisations from both sides to monitor the implementation process from the point of view of civil society, and prepare its recommendations to the relevant authorities.
The Platform has 15 members on both sides. On the EU side, it comprises 9 EESC members and 6 permanent observers from European civil society networks (Eurochambres, BusinessEurope, ETUC, Copa-Cogeca, Cooperatives Europe, EaP Civil Society Forum).