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 adoption of a solid "EU Urban Agenda" for Europe that should stimulate growth, integrate liveability constraints and boost innovation is an urgent matter, according to the panellist of EESC's public hearing on the issue at stake.
With more than 60% of EU's population living in urban areas, this Agenda is expected to be "more daring" than the initiatives taken so far according to Joost Van Iersel, President of the ECO section at the EESC, as "there is increasingly robust and future-driven economic power in the cities and urban areas that is a strong basis for growth, not to be underexploited".
Roman Haken, EESC rapporteur on the proposal, has been tasked by the Dutch Presidency to expose ways to fully engage civil society organisations in the building of the "EU Urban Agenda": "Civil society must have ownership in the crafting of this Agenda, as it is at the frontline of all urban issues. Local development led by local communities works, so we need to transpose this model into a broader scheme at EU level. More effective governance with stakeholders is possible, it is the way forward."
The public hearing, divided into two panels, first discussed the role of civil society in the "EU Urban Agenda", with presentations from Lambert van Nistelrooij, Vice-President of URBAN Intergroup (European Parliament), Olivier Baudelet, Team leader in charge of urban policy (DG REGIO – European Commission), Bas Verkerk, Rapporteur of the opinion "Towards an Integrated Urban Agenda for the EU" (Committee of the Regions) and Barbara Steenbergen, Head of office (International Union of Tenants). It then examined the implementation of a partnership-based "EU Urban Agenda", with presentations from Alberto Marchiori, Delegate for EU Policies (Confcommercio, Italy), Claude Denagtergal, Advisor (European Trade Union Confederation), Jan Olsson, Co-President (Reves – European Network of Cities and Regions for the Social Economy), Christian Saublens, former Director (Eurada), Levente Polyak, Managing Director (Eutropian).
Dutch First Secretary, Auke van der Goot, from the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands, welcomed the debate and pointed out 30 May 2016 as being the key moment for action, as that is when the Ministers responsible for Urban Policy will meet in the course of their Informal Meeting, under the auspices of the Dutch Presidency of the EU, with an aim to discuss and adopt the "Pact of Amsterdam" which will incorporate all the common European work on urban matters.