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.
Principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights introduces the concept of "essential services" into the EU, something which does not exist as such in the Treaties but which provides that "[e]veryone has the right to access essential services of good quality, including water, sanitation, energy, transport, financial services and digital communications. Support for access to such services shall be available for those in need".
Given the examples of the services described as "essential" in principle 20, the EESC considers this to be a reference to services of general economic interest, which are already covered by EU law, in particular by Protocol 26 on services of general interest which is annexed to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Although its interpretative provisions go further than a mere guarantee of access to quality, some of them – to widely varying degrees – are insufficiently regulated and implemented in the Member States.
The EESC therefore welcomes the fact that principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights reaffirms the right to access essential services. These are a vital component of social justice and are underpinned by the principle of equal treatment of users, prohibiting any kind of discrimination or exclusion whatsoever, and by the principle of universal access to services of a high level of affordability and quality.