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.
Staffan Nilsson outlined in ten points the issues that civil society from both continents had identified as key problems and the recommendations meant to contribute to the work of the heads of state or government over the summit. Among these points, he called for the strategic European-Latin American relationship to be based on mutually beneficial trade, respect for human rights, social and environmental standards and participatory democracy, so as to become a model for others.
First of all, we call for the strategic European-Latin American relationship to be based on mutually beneficial trade, respect for human rights, social and environmental standards and participatory democracy, so as to become a model for others.
Following the Central American model, we call for the real and effective participation of civil society organisations in the Association Agreements between the EU and Mexico and Chile, in the Multiparty Agreement between Colombia, Peru and the EU, and possibly between Mercosur and the EU.
We consider that the final declaration of this summit should explicitly support and recognise civil society organisations, whose involvement is crucial in order to make bi-regional relations more open and transparent and to boost regional integration processes.
We ask the heads of state or government to conclude a Framework EULatin America and Caribbean Social Security Convention, similar to the one in force in the Ibero-American Community in this field and to those existing in Mercosur, the Andean Community and in the European Union; we strongly support the proposal made at the summit in this regard by the Chilean government.
We ask the summit to ensure that the various agreements between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean, include a chapter on social security rights in relation to mobility and on respect for human, social and labour rights.
We as civil society organisations welcome the establishment of the EULAC Foundation and call on the heads of state or government to promote a work programme for the Foundation that includes a strong element of real and effective cooperation with the institutions representing civil society organisations from both continents.
Echoing the European Parliament, we ask that the EU's new development cooperation policy for Latin America should not exclude Ecuador, Colombia and Peru from the list of this policy's beneficiary countries, and that cooperation with countries classified as "middle income countries" should include sectoral and thematic programmes, while maintaining the benefits of the GSP+.
We suggest that a policy of investment in innovation be promoted, based on the sustainable development of countries where the investment is made, showing due regard for the ILO principles and fundamental labour rights, consumers' and users' rights, and greater social equality.
We consider that when promoting investment, governments should take account of the need to create an investment-friendly climate and to offer legal certainty. Investments should be based on ethical criteria, for instance promoting safety and quality of goods and services.
Investments in the public sector should facilitate the access to public services and social protection systems, promote the employment of young people and women, promote cooperatives and other forms of the social economy and support access to land for farm workers. It would also be important that these investments aim at diversifying the energy matrix with renewable energy sources and complying with ILO Convention No 169 on the use of natural resources in indigenous areas as well as implementing the ILO agenda for decent work.
Staffan Nilsson's speech for the EU and Latin American organised civil society at the EU-CELAC Summit in Santiago de Chile