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 EESC adopted an opinion at its July plenary emphasising the need for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to raw materials policies. It proposes expanding critical materials lists, ensuring fair energy prices, simplifying permits, prioritising recycling and promoting capacity building in EU raw materials policies.
China currently dominates the global supply of critical raw materials, with Europe producing less than 5% of the world's mineral raw materials. With demand for global raw materials projected to double by 2060, action is imperative.
To address these challenges, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) proposes expanding the list of critical and strategic raw materials to include those essential for green and sustainable technologies. This will enable targeted policies and investment to ensure the long-term availability and sustainability of these resources.
In support of the EU's green transition, the EESC calls for fair energy prices, financial support and simplified permit procedures across all Member States. These measures are crucial for meeting the transition's demands for material and enhancing competitiveness on the global market. The EESC also suggests exploring partnerships with other countries. These collaborations would enhance resource security, strengthen diplomatic ties and encourage responsible practices.
The rapporteur of the EESC opinion, Maurizio Mensi, emphasises the importance of promoting a circular economy and resource efficiency by prioritising the recovery and reuse of raw materials in waste legislation, stating: It is essential to support exploration and extraction projects for critical raw materials with public funding, coordinated State aid rules and anti-trust instruments in order to avoid distortions in the internal market. This approach would reduce reliance on primary sources and stimulate economic growth.
However, the EESC cautions that, while ensuring a stable and sustainable supply of raw materials is crucial, it is equally important to assess potential environmental impacts. Striking a balance between resource security and environmental considerations is essential in order to align with the EU's broader sustainability objectives.
EESC co-rapporteur Michal Pintér stressed that Supporting the development of human capital in extractive industries, and reskilling and upskilling the current workforce should be prioritised for a robust raw material sector. The EESC calls for EU-wide capacity building in extractive industries.
This opinion serves as a call for united action across various fronts, encompassing regulatory certainty, social alignment, workforce training, energy accessibility, financing options, streamlined procedures, recycling initiatives, public funding, partnerships and environmental considerations. The EESC believes that, by collectively addressing these aspects, the EU can successfully transition towards a green economy, laying the foundation for a resilient, sustainable and globally competitive raw materials sector.
The European Commission presented its Critical Raw Materials Act in the beginning of March. The package of legislative and non-legislative measures is aimed at diversifying the supply of the materials needed to achieve the green and digital transition.