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 European Parliament asked the EESC to draw up the present opinion in order to analyse, in the context of relations between the EU and Chile, the role of Chilean civil society and the state of progress on Article 10 of the Association Agreement (AA) between the EU and Chile, which was signed in 2002. Under this article, an EESC-Chile civil society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) is to be established, but this has not come about due to the lack of a counterpart institution in Chile.
• The EESC welcomes the good political relations between the EU and Chile, which have certainly been facilitated by the AA. The EESC would support a review of the AA to include a chapter on sustainable development, support measures for the effective recognition and implementation of the fundamental ILO conventions, and a realignment of cooperation to strengthen civil society and projects of common interest, such as innovation, sustainable development, consumer protection and education.
• The EESC calls on the parties to the AA and the relevant international organisations based in Chile to provide all the institutional, political, operational and economic support that Chilean civil society organisations need to build up their strength and skills, so that they can become valid partners in both social and civil dialogue at national level, and a counterpart for European civil society at the bilateral level.
• The EESC emphasises the fundamental importance of social dialogue between employers and trade unions as the foundation for the economic and social consensus that is crucial to development accompanied by social cohesion, and as a starting point for fostering a broader civil dialogue between the political authorities and economic and social actors. This should lead to better distribution of wealth, with a more open policy and an expanded role for the social partners and civil society organisations.
• The EESC underlines the importance of setting up an economic and social council (ESC) or equivalent body in Chile: this would boost opportunities for consolidating dialogue between different social stakeholders, and between them and the competent authorities, as well as making it possible to implement Article 10 of the Association Agreement as quickly as possible. The EESC is willing to contribute to these efforts, using its experience in similar activities with other countries.
• As agreed with the Chilean organisations during its fact-finding mission to Chile in September 2011, the EESC will, with the support of the Chilean government and the EU, hold a seminar bringing together the most representative Chilean civil society actors, in conjunction with the Seventh Meeting of EU-Latin America and Caribbean Organised Civil Society (Santiago de Chile, 2012). The seminar will look at the interest in, and means for, setting up a Chilean civil society consultative body that could serve as a counterpart for the EESC under the terms of Article 10 of the AA.
• Other issues of general interest to civil society stakeholders will also be discussed, as will possibilities for capacity-building, the need for ongoing, and improved, exchanges of information, and the possibility of organising other regular joint activities. This cooperation will need financial support from the signatories to the AA.