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 three topics that you picked up for this Joint Consultative Committee are certainly very appropriate.
- Building a low-carbon economy is a key issue in the EU at the moment. It is one of the main objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. I am sure the exchange of ideas and experiences you will have on this matter will be very interesting in terms of mutual learning between Turkey and the EU. Low-carbon economy and, more broadly, sustainable development is the main priority of my mandate as President of the EESC. You can find in this room my programme in Turkish. The EESC will organise a conference in 2012 to feed in the Rio+20 conference. We can certainly think of a way to involve you in this conference. But be sure that I will read carefully the conclusions of your meeting on this aspect.
- Secondly, the benefit that Turkey's accession would have on EU economy is also an expert debate that I am pretty much looking forward to listening to. There is no doubt that EU leaders cannot even dream about reaching the level of growth experienced by Turkey in recent years. I am convinced that Turkey's accession would indeed bring more growth and jobs in the EU.
- Last but certainly not least, the visa issue. I am very concerned that the visa issue has not moved forward between the EU and Turkish authorities. Our Joint Consultative Committee has already expressed is views on numerous occasion on this critical issue to improve EU-Turkey relations. I am glad you revert to it and insist on the necessity to ease the requirements currently imposed on Turkish citizens when travelling in the EU.
Speech at the EU-Turkey Joint Consultative Committee in Istanbul