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 study carried out by the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) aims to provide an analysis of the current consultation practices at the European Commission as well as to examine the potential of an intermediary body, such as the EESC, and organised civil society, in improving this tool for participatory democracy in the EU.
Introduced on 1 April 2012 by the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Citizens' Initiative is the most important instrument of participative democracy in the European Union. By collecting at least 1 million signatures from at least 7 EU Member States, citizens have the right to call directly on the European Commission to propose a legal act or modify the existing one. This Guide is to provide you with an idea of how to get involved.
The organisation of the annual ECI Day - which I hope will remain a landmark in years to come with more and more partners on board - is also clear proof of our commitment to initiate dialogue on this tool. Last year's event was only a small seminar to celebrate the launch of the ECI process, but it attracted many people.
We have also supported the ECI process by hosting technical working groups on the online signature collection software, bringing together IT experts and ECI organisers to see what can be improved on (participants will hear about the ongoing work during the afternoon's panel).
Staffan Nilsson's speeches at the European Citizens' Initiative Day 2013
This book argues that civil society, by which we mean associations, interest groups and the employers’and union organisations, is an essential pillar of democracy. During meetings with representatives of organised civil society, the writer has gathered a series of examples of how they have made their voices heard in the EU.
This report examines the extent to which European citizens engage in participatory
democracy, and the extent to which they believe that political decision-making can be
influenced through their own actions and through those of civil society organisations.
The EESC believes that there is much more to European citizenship, and that a political system such as the EU must cultivate and strengthen the political, social and cultural dimensions of the Union. If we want people to feel truly connected to Europe, we need to develop their ability to exercise political power ("power" in the sense of participation in governance). We can develop that ability by providing knowledge about the political system and using mechanisms that allow for participation from the bottom up.
Staffan Nilsson`s opening speech at the YourEurope2013 open space event