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.
Witnessing the current discussions taking place in Katowice at COP24, I fear that not all have understood the urgency to tackle climate change; concrete measures need to be taken.
Sustainable development and Agenda 2030 are the cornerstones to strengthen the European project. Tackling climate change is part of this agenda and this is why COP 24 must deliver and adopt an Agenda for hope and for future generation.
Today, the EESC, had an excellent discussion with European Commission First Vice-President, Mr Frans Timmermans, on sustainable development.
We were encouraged by his intervention, because, as the house of the civil society, we have, for many years, been working hard to support and promote sustainable development.
I reiterated the EESC's commitment to Agenda 2030 and invited the European Commission to adopt, as soon as possible, its reflection paper "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030", stressing that civil society is definitely ready to play its part.
We were pleased to hear from Mr Timmermans that he appreciated the results and conclusions of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the EU to which the EESC actively contributed as a "real bridge builder" and that platforms of this kind could be an example on how to involve civil society for future key issues.
I pointed out that Agenda 2030, as over-arching priority, pursuing an economic, social and environmental agenda, is an essential part of the "Europe we want".
The "Europe we want" is one in which our children have better perspectives than the current generation and are not suffering from the results of our action or inaction today.
I also mentioned my participation in COP 24, where I led a strong delegation of EESC's members in Poland.
The messages we conveyed to all our interlocutors (the European Commission, local and regional authorities, cities and regions, NGOs, youth groups, experts) have been clear: Civil society organisations are firmly committed to address climate change; this needs to be done with strength, efficiency and urgency.
We have no option but to tackle the issue, also because it can help us seize new opportunities for the future.
We should not make the mistake to respond to such challenges with new burdens and unfair taxation. We need to create new incentives and financial means to accompany sustainable transitions as the only way to have citizens, workers, enterprises and local communities on board. Otherwise the strategy has no future.
Of one thing I am pretty sure: regression is the one option we cannot afford.
COP 24 must deliver, and building on the results of the previous COPs, it must adopt an Agenda for change, hope and future generations.
The EESC will remain vigilant on these files, because Agenda 2030 must be turned into a proactive, transformational and positive narrative for Europe, driven by strong political will and determination. It must be, without any doubt, the key strategy of the European Union for the next decade.