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 Committee welcomes this Commission's proposal, which aims at making the EU more attractive to students and talented researchers from third countries. It considers that it is necessary to recast the two current directives on students and researchers if the EU wants to tackle the current the demographic and economic challenges, achieve the Europe 2020 goals and remain an innovation hub and a centre of industry.
The EU needs to take a new approach to economic migration, one that would allow third-country nationals to acquire knowledge and skills. The Committee underlines the need to enhance cooperation between the EU and third countries to ensure effective "brain circulation" and supports the development of mobility partnerships.
The Committee also welcomes the emphasis on the fundamental rights of third-country nationals. Greater attention needs to be given to active measures to ensure their fair treatment.
As third-country nationals are often in vulnerable situations, especially students and au pairs, the EESC draws attention to the need to ensure appropriate protection for students, researchers, volunteers and au pairs where they are engaged in paid work or active in the labour market. The Committee encourages the European Commission and the Fundamental Rights Agency to assess the vulnerabilities that third-country nationals face here and put forward to the Member States active measures aimed at removing them
The Committee encourages the European Commission and the Member States to take into account the gender aspect and to configure their programmes so as to facilitate the participation of more women.
The Committee believes that, in practice, a huge number of procedural and institutional obstacles continue to stand in the way of mobility. An in-depth analysis of these obstacles is needed, irrespective of their nature, and measures to eliminate them should be identified. The process for granting visas should be simple, fair, accessible and non-discriminatory.
The Committee welcomes the provision allowing third-country nationals to stay in the Member State for 12 months upon completion of their research or studies in order to look for work. However, the equal-treatment provisions in Directive 2011/98/EU include derogations that seem to run counter to the objectives of the proposal to recast the two directives.