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.
We have in place for many years now the EU-China Round Table. Within this framework (which was started10 years ago, and was supported in the EU-China summit 2004), the EESC meets regularly with the Chinese Economic and Social Council. Just a few weeks ago we had our EU –China Round Table in Hangzhou. Our declaration adopted by the end of our discussions in April focused on sustainable urban development. Our two rapporteurs, Evelyne PICHENOT on the European side, and Professor Zou Ji on the Chinese side, have done a huge work together.
Together with our Chinese colleagues, we agreed that sustainable development must be human-based, comprehensive, coordinated and balanced. Models of sustainable urban development should co-exist to preserve the environment, encourage social integration and involved specific measures for the development of sound transport systems, energy efficiency, broad access to green technology and a recycling economy.
Whatever the model, civil society’s needs to be regularly informed and involved in urban planning and implementation. The involvement of civil society is a key to promote and uphold the accountability of the various parties involved. The creation of Councils for sustainable development at national and local levels could be instrumental in this context. The regional implementation of article 10 on the information and consultation of the 1992 Rio Declaration (or the Aarhus Convention in the European context) could also be instrumental.
I would like to stress here the importance of the sustainable development of rural areas, because they feed the urban areas. It is about food security. We believe it is important to exploit the rural areas properly by protecting the environment, ensuring proper working conditions and making key public services available to rural populations.
Last but not least I would like to mention our work for the Rio+20 summit. We believe that the Rio Conference must send out a clear signal to the world community, with specific proposals for the transition to an economic order based on qualitative economic growth. Sustainable urbanisation should be part of the Rio+20 agreements. Let's face the challenges and go for change! Together we can re-build a more sustainable world!
EU- China Urbanisation Partnership: Staffan Nilsson's Intervention at the Opening Session