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.
Considers the impact of Horizon 2020 (H2020) to be positive. The programme is considered to be much better than its predecessors, delivering a larger impact on society.
Draws attention to low SME involvement, barriers to their participation, with the SME Instrument being difficult to benefit from. Therefore, recommends that future programmes should enhance SME involvement and lower the barriers for SMEs to participate.
States that rigidity and bureaucracy were named as obstacles and shortcomings of H2020.
Calls for the acceleration of review processes and the simplification of the evaluation process while increasing their transparency and consistency.
Believes that synergies with regional and national funding programmes should be improved.
In order to improve predictability, suggests providing budget and working programmes ahead of time.
Considers H2020 extremely relevant, as the participation in such programmes helps to build political and scientific capital and has positive effects on the reputation. H2020 also enabled the establishment of strategic partnerships within new or existing networks.
Sees the failure to close the gap between EU15 and EU13 countries as the main shortcoming of H2020.
Regarding civil society involvement:
Stresses that involving civil society at an early stage helps tackling societal challenges and benefits all parties.
Argues that despite the disparities between Member States, it is clear that civil society organisations can add value toall stages of the innovation process.
Calls for a serious impact assessment of H2020 and investing in its communication as civil society engagement and support to R&I funding is seen as critical.