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 future CAP must meet the original objectives set down in the Treaty of Rome as well as new objectives around the environment, climate change and biodiversity, while at the same time ensuring that the European model of agriculture is maintained and remains competitive and viable, to meet the needs of European citizens. The new CAP must also adopt and deliver on the targets set down in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and COP21.
The EESC welcomes the direction of the reforms and the new proposals on subsidiarity and the new delivery model, and highlights the need to ensure that they are implemented in a way that protects the common policy and single market and is in line with the commitments on simplification. However, the EESC believes that the communication should have been more specific. The Committee hoped the Commission would take into account the view of civil society set out in this opinion in the forthcoming legislative proposals. The timeline for the EESC's opinion and EC's legislative proposals was too tight.
The EESC supports the CAP two-pillar model, with the first pillar providing direct payments, which should be reoriented and which must ensure a fair income for farmers and an incentive for the delivery of public goods, as well as market support, and the second pillar supporting rural areas and fighting depopulation in line with the Cork 2.0 declaration. The EESC is opposed to co-financing of the first pillar. It calls for a reasonable level of co-financing of the second pillar for all Member States. The EESC is clear that direct payments should only go to active farmers, based on objective criteria relating to agricultural activities and the provision of public goods.
The EESC supports a strong, well-funded CAP and an increase in the EU budget to 1.3% of GNI in line with the growth in the EU economy. Adequate CAP funding must be provided to address low incomes of farmers and agricultural workers, inflation and any Brexit shortfall, as well as additional environmental and climate change requirements, and to address the need for approximation of direct payments between Member States taking into consideration differences in conditions.
The EESC believes the CAP must support the small and the large, the young and the old, the new and the established, self-employed farmers and their employees, women as well as men, in such a way as to make life in the countryside viable for active farmers involved in agricultural production, delivering public goods, taking care of the environment and contributing to employment.