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 EESC considers that a trade agreement between the EU and Colombia and Peru could be a useful instrument both for Europe and for all the Andean countries involved. Ecuador and Bolivia might be willing to return to the negotiations. Its economic, social and environmental repercussions must be carefully evaluated, in a transparent, comprehensive way in the interests of all the parties. And here civil society can and must play a key role.
• In the process of negotiating this trade agreement it became clear that there was insufficient dialogue with the parties' organised civil society. In order to fill this gap and involve civil society in an institutionalised way, the EESC, having held discussions during its recent mission to Peru and Colombia with institutional representatives of organised civil society from both countries, proposes the establishment of a joint consultative committee (JCC) made up of representatives of European, Peruvian and Colombian civil society, with a consultative role in areas affecting human rights, sustainable development and the assessment of the sectoral impact of the Trade Agreement.
• The JCC would draw up a list of areas to monitor, and could be consulted on these areas by the signatory parties or could issue opinions, recommendations or studies on its own initiative. The JCC would hold an annual meeting with the body representing the parties to the Agreement, unless otherwise decided by common consent. The JCC would be compatible with the session with civil society organisations and the public at large provided for in Article 282 of the Agreement. It would be able to negotiate with the parties the possibility of establishing indicators on the sectoral impact of the implementation of the Agreement. The mechanisms already approved in previous EU trade agreements with other countries and regions of the world could be used as an example for launching a consultative forum with these characteristics.
• The EESC considers that a consultative body of this kind would make it possible to involve civil society in the Trade Agreement, institutionalise consultation, influence its development, tackle the challenges it entails, ensure fluid, direct communication with those responsible for the implementation of the Agreement and formulate specific recommendations on the positive or negative consequences of its application.