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.
Highlighting the need to ensure a sustainable recovery for the future of Europe’s citizens, the EESC Civil Society Days 2021 provide an ideal platform for EU citizens, organised civil society and EU institutions to discuss how best to deliver on this objective. Taking place from 1 to 5 March 2021, this virtual-only event will focus on issues such as multilevel sustainable democracy in Europe and the future of work in the well-being economy, through a series of eight interactive workshops organised by civil society members of the EESC’s liaison group. This digest presents a selection of relevant publications from the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS).
Humans are among the many living species capable of collaborative and imaginative thinking. While it is widely agreed among scholars that this capacity has contributed to making humans the dominant species, other crucial questions remain open to debate. Is it possible to encourage large groups of people to engage in collective thinking? Is it possible to coordinate citizens to find solutions to address global challenges? Some scholars claim that large groups of independent, motivated, and well-informed people can, collectively, make better decisions than isolated individuals can – what is known as 'collective intelligence.'
Digital innovation is radically transforming democratic decision-making. Public administrations are experimenting with mobile applications (apps) to provide citizens with real-time information, using online platforms to crowdsource ideas, and testing algorithms to engage communities in day-to-day administration. The key question is what technology breakthrough means for governance systems created long before digital disruption.
What will European Union (EU) decision-making look like in the next decade and beyond? Is technological progress promoting more transparent, inclusive and participatory decision-making at EU level? Technology has dramatically changed both the number and quality of connections between citizens and public administrations. With technological progress, citizens have gained improved access to public authorities through new digital communication channels.
Briefing by Jerôme Saulnier, Gianluca Sgueo, Ionel Zamfir, EPRS, February 2021
The ongoing structural transformation and the rapid spread of the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution are challenging current democratic institutions and their established forms of governance and regulation. At the same time, these changes offer vast opportunities to enhance, strengthen and expand the existing democratic framework to reflect a more complex and interdependent world. This process has already begun in many democratic societies but further progress is needed.
Traditionally the social economy is considered to be an ever-growing set of private, formally organised enterprises and networks that build on multiple types of resources and cooperation, with local anchorage and democratic and participatory decision-making processes. Its primary aim is not to make profit but to meet the needs of its members and that of the wider society. The social economy is active in an increasing number of sectors, and while some of its actors are small non-profit organisations, others are large organisations with international outreach.
Cooperatives are autonomous associations of people aspiring to achieve their objectives through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. International organisations, such as the United Nations and the European Union, value the role cooperatives play for society, the economy and (international) development. There are 3 million cooperatives worldwide; together, they provide employment for 280 million people, equating to 10 % of the world's employed population.
Animated infographic by Denise Chircop, EPRS, February 2021
Learning is not limited to a single, specific phase in life during one’s school years but can also take place in a variety of different contexts over the course of a whole lifetime. With ET2020, the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training, the European Union has supported the concept of lifelong learning by coordinating cooperation between Member States in the area of training as well as formal, non-formal, and informal education. This infographic presents a sample of data to draw attention to some of the recurrent issues in the field of lifelong learning.
In-depth Analysis by Denise Chircop, EPRS, September 2020
The analysis focuses on six challenges facing tertiary education in the EU: the need to maintain relevance to current and future aspirations, the impact of digital and disruptive technologies, the way it collaborates with business, global and intra-EU collaboration, quality assurance, financing, and barriers to inclusion. It also looks at trends in two of the largest higher education systems outside the European Higher Education Area, those in the United States and China.
Briefing by Magdalena Pasikowska-Schnass, EPRS, June 2020
The digital shift has touched all aspects of human activity, and culture is no exception. Cultural assets and works have been digitised, and digital technology has become a tool for novel creations. Digital-born works have enriched the resources available to those interested in culture. Technology has huge potential to facilitate and democratise access to cultural resources.
EPRS Ideas Paper by Monika Kiss, EPRS, February 2021
The current coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying health and economic crises have highlighted and heightened certain trends and challenges which were already affecting the labour market in Europe. These include accelerated digitalisation and automation, increased use of artificial intelligence, constraints relating to a lack of digital skills, and problems concerning the status of platform workers and other workers in non-standard forms of employment. In parallel, there has been an unprecedented expansion in teleworking, and in the development of transport and delivery platforms, as a result of the need for social distancing during the pandemic.
EPRS Ideas Paper by Nora Milotay, EPRS, September 2020
Whilst the disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis has affected all segments of society, some groups and geographic areas have been impacted more seriously than others. The crisis has opened up the opportunity to rethink how and what could be done differently and more efficiently over the longer term in the social and employment field at European level, including the possibility of putting social and economic considerations and rights on a more equal footing within the Union's governance framework.
The next generation, sometimes referred to as 'Generation Z' or 'Gen Z', includes children and young people born after 1995/1996. Also known as the 'iGeneration' they are the first digital natives: they have grown up with smartphones and tablets, and most have internet access at home. While, in the EU, they are the most diverse generation when it comes to their origins, and best educated, in terms of level of education, they are the most vulnerable, including on the labour market.
Briefing by Joanna Apap, Eulalia Claros and Ionel Zamfir, EPRS, March 2019
Fair representation of women in political life has a positive impact on gender mainstreaming in various policies. The United Nations has set a dedicated target within the sustainable development goals dealing specifically with women's access to leadership. The available data on the presence of women in parliaments and in governments show a positive trend, but much still remains to be done to ensure an equal presence of both genders in decision-making.
The Sustainable Development Goals were established in 2015 as part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The signatories adopted a policy framework with 17 goals, addressing such issues as poverty, hunger, health and wellbeing, education, gender equality, environment and climate, strong institutions, peace and justice. Sustainable development aims at balancing social, economic and environmental aspects, seeing them as interconnected.
'EU Legislation in Progress' briefing by Pernilla Jourde and Agnieszka Widuto, EPRS, October 2020
The EU aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 % by 2030, and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. This will require a socio-economic transformation in regions relying on fossil fuels and carbon-intensive industries. As part of the European Green Deal, on 14 January 2020, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation to create the Just Transition Fund, aimed at supporting EU regions most affected by the transition to a low carbon economy. Funding will be available to all Member States, while focusing on regions with the biggest transition challenges.
'At a glance' note by Vadim Kononenko, EPRS, December 2020
With its current European Green Deal plan, the EU is striving to achieve climate neutrality in its economy by 2050 and, simultaneously, set itself on the path to recovery from the adverse effects of the global pandemic. Technology will inevitably play a significant part in this process. However, history also suggests that culture and aesthetics have a significant role to play in recovery from a crisis, be it from war, economic recession, or an epidemic.
'At a glance' note by Agnieszka Widuto, EPRS, February 2021
The New European Bauhaus is a European Commission initiative, which links the sustainability, aesthetics and inclusion dimensions of building design. Announced in 2020 by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the project has now entered the design phase, which involves exploring ideas, launching the New European Bauhaus prize and opening calls for proposals to bring the new ideas to life through the use of EU funds at national and regional level. EU cohesion policy, with its support for environmental, socio-economic and cultural projects can make a significant contribution to the New European Bauhaus.
The proportion of young people (aged between 15 and 29) in the general EU population is declining. On the whole, young people have a higher level of education than older adults, and youth unemployment rates have begun to fall. Nevertheless, young people are still more exposed to poverty and social exclusion than other sections of the population.
'EU Legislation in Progress' briefing by Denise Chircop, EPRS, April 2019
The distinctive feature of the European Solidarity Corps today is that it brings together volunteering, traineeship and job opportunities for young people with a clear focus on solidarity projects and uses existing management structures to maximise focus on delivery and performance. Projected to offer opportunities for 350 000 18 to 30 years old from 2021 to 2027, the programme's proposed financial allocation is €1 260 million (current prices).