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.
It is the opinion of the EESC that the European Agenda on Migration should be designed so as to take into full consideration the humanitarian dimension of its scope, and the EU should not forget its fundamental commitments and legally binding rules to protect lives and human rights, especially of people in danger.
The EESC supports the vision to provide a long-term response to migration, addressing the root causes of migration and creating a dialogue with third countries based on cooperation and shared responsibility. Tailored and specific agreements with each country, with full respect of human rights are also supported. Flexibility provides the right perspective and combination of actions and incentives.
While the need for policy coordination and streamlining is clear, it seems that the Agenda on Migration is becoming an overarching policy, superseding other policies in pursuit of its actions and objectives (e.g. neighbourhood, development assistance and trade). While it acknowledges the importance of the migration policy, the EESC also considers the other policies to be equally important and worth pursuing, and recommends that participation in the migration policy is not used as a condition for cooperation in other policy areas.
The opinion also underlines that a distinction should be made between lack of cooperation with third countries based on lack of political will and lack of cooperation based on lack of capacity and resources. They both need to be addressed but via different means. In order to ensure sustainability and resilience, the focus should be on building capacity first. Under no circumstances should assistance be conditional on readmission and border controls.
The EESC acknowledge economy is central to addressing the root causes of migration, but this should not mean ignoring the political, institutional and administrative dimensions of stability and prosperity. The strategy needs to be readjusted so as to include more committed and targeted support in three areas: conflict resolution and state building, promotion of democracy and human rights, and civil society development.
The significant role played by civil society organisations in making the resettlement, travel and reception of migrants and refugees more safe and humane is highlighted in the opinion. The proposal should reconsider the role of and support for their activities, from local organisations in the countries of origin and transit to those participating in the rescue operations and managing reception and integration. Moreover, civil society organisations should be involved in the monitoring and evaluation of the actions of all competent authorities involved in managing migration.