"Inspired by a European spirit, the EU's national economic and social councils and the EESC worked together tirelessly to create a European network of economic and social councils. Thanks to the commitment of the presidents and members of all the councils, the network has helped forge systematic and structured cooperation on topics of practical relevance in EU policy. Today, the EU's network of economic and social councils and similar institutions is a recognised institutional set-up which is consulted and listened to by the main EU institutions.(...)The present publication is an integral part of a larger comparative study on EU Member States consultations with civil society on European policy matters. Following a call for tenders launched by the EESC, the European Union Democracy Observatory at the European University Institute in Florence was commissioned to carry out the study under the direction of Didier Chabanet and Professor Alexander H. Trechsel."