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 opinion deals with two slightly different subjects, which nevertheless have a common denominator: reassuring European society about the availability of safe food.
The EU has put in place a robust system to prevent risks associated with the entry of new products, including chemical products, into the food chain. At an institutional level, the European Commission (DG Santé) is responsible for risk management, whilst the EFSA, the European agency with authority for technical matters, is responsible for risk assessment. Implementation of the new system has already yielded some reassuring results for consumers: for example, following in-depth assessments, the number of pesticides authorised in the EU fell dramatically between 2000 and 2008 (from 1 000 to 250). However, it is a worrying development for farmers, who are beginning to feel the effects of the absence of active substances allowing them to carry out pest control. Paradoxically, many of these molecules which are banned in the EU are permitted in third countries which export their produce to the European market.
The EESC believes that the EFSA has proved that it is competent throughout its existence. There is no doubt that it plays a very important role in preventing health risks in Europe. Thanks to the EFSA, the EU has one of the most effective systems for protecting public health in the world.
The EFSA assessment is based on a scientific study which should demonstrate that a particular product is harmless. Under current legislation, this baseline study has to be presented by the requesting party, i.e. the company wishing to put the product on the market. This in itself offers little in the way of reassurance because the findings of scientific studies can differ radically depending on their sources of funding.