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.
Harnessing the potential of European SMEs to penetrate third-country markets, especially fast-growing ones, could become an important factor in boosting growth and jobs.
The Committee regrets that the communication deals mostly with supporting exporters and investors. The Committee notes that European support to internationalisation should take account of that offered at national level, which it should not duplicate but complement where this falls within EU competence.
The Committee calls for better management of external programmes and adequate communication tools to support exporters.
Access to financing is an important precondition for SMEs going international, especially at a time of crisis. The EESC therefore calls on the Commission to create new support financing instruments for SME internationalisation.
The Committee calls for a unification of the conditions for various regional programmes. It also calls for a re-think of the current rules, under which only partner-country SMEs can draw on support for taking part in programme actions.
The EESC proposes a series of tangible measures at European level that could usefully complement existing support and endorses the idea of convening an annual forum to evaluate progress in going international. It calls for this to be a permanent platform in which social partners, other stakeholders and itself are effectively involved.