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 European economic governance rules, conceived in crisis, played an important role in fiscal consolidation, economic policy coordination and the furtherance of fiscal integration. However, the EESC is concerned that the cost has been high in terms of growth and employment, largely due to the incomplete nature of economic governance in an economic and monetary union.
The quantitative easing measures now being embarked upon by the European Central Bank need to be matched by greater political initiatives by the Member States going beyond the Investment Plan for Europe.
Concrete mechanisms and instruments for well-designed economic policy coordination leading to convergence and solidarity should be established urgently. This process should not involve Treaty change in the first instance but the EESC is of the opinion that in the long term Treaty change will be required.
In the review of the Multiannual Financial Framework in 2016, there is a need to back urgent structural reforms with a common EU interest, including macroeconomic rebalancing, with some form of fiscal capacity such as the Convergence and Competitiveness Instrument.
The EESC is concerned that the structural balance, a non-observable variable based on theoretical and disputed calculations and prone to serious revisions, plays such a key role in the Excessive Deficit Procedure.
More focus should be placed on measures to increase GDP growth in order to reduce high debt/GDP ratios than on budgetary measures to reduce the annual deficit. The Commission should monitor not only the implementation of country-specific recommendations (CSRs) but also carry out an ex-post analysis of its recommendations in achieving an increase in output, growth and high-quality jobs.
The Committee welcomes the emphasis placed on the use of flexibility within the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact, but considers it a limited and partial measure.
A lack of implementation of CSRs could be countered by real involvement of civil society and the social partners in drawing up CSRs.
The Semester process should provide for a stronger role of the European Parliament and be more widely publicised by Member States and the Commission to ensure a better understanding by citizens.