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.
Although family policies do not fall within the remit of the European Union, the EU may nevertheless enact legislation on balancing work and family life, equality at work between women and men, and child protection and development.
When it comes to knowledge of demographic situations and trends, at all the various geographical levels, evaluation of family-friendly policies - including both national policies and the family policies implemented by local authorities - and the exchange of good practice between Member States, the EU also has a valuable role to play.
Today, a number of initiatives and related funding arrangements are being developed under the leadership of the European Union.
It would be desirable for these to be better integrated and placed under the authority of - or at the least coordinated by - one body responsible for defining an overall policy and determining priorities for action and research. The role of conductor and coordinator could be divided between the European Commission, specifically via the European Alliance for Families, for the more policy-related aspects of coordination and management, and Eurofound, for the more scientific aspects.
Many of the policies determined at EU level have a direct impact on family life.
It would therefore be desirable for studies analysing the impact of legislation on families to be carried out systematically at European level, so as to avoid any such negative side effects on families.
The Committee firmly supports the idea of making 2014 the European Year for Families.