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 CSOs are leading players in development in their own right and should play the same part in cooperation policies. They need to be involved in the drafting, implementation and monitoring of cooperation policies and programmes and be among the strategic bodies through which finance is channelled.
• Changes are needed in the system for granting European development funding through CSOs. It is necessary to introduce, as a matter of urgency, arrangements such as the "framework agreements", cascading subsidies, multiannual agreements, emergency funding and implementation of the "toolbox" defined in the Structured Dialogue. CSO networks, federations and confederations should, in the EESC's view, be the main recipients of this type of funding.
• CSOs should be guaranteed a favourable environment for carrying out their work in all countries. This requires respect of basic principles like freedom of association, freedom of speech, assembly and action. This objective should be incorporated into public cooperation policies.
• The participation of civil society should be a real component of governance, and as such be adopted by the EU as a criterion for action in its relationship with partner countries.
• Involving the private sector in development policies is essential for these policies' effectiveness. However, it must be ensured that this is not used as a pretext for reducing the public contribution.
• In the context of the decentralisation of European development cooperation, the EESC believes that it can cooperate very effectively with the European External Action Service in the EU Delegations' dialogue with the CSOs. This is partly because the EESC is the European counterpart of the various consultative bodies that are being set up under the economic (Cariforum), trade (South Korea) and association (Central America, Chile) agreements. It is also because of the long-standing and stable relations that the EESC maintains with civil society organisations and their institutional representatives from all continents, but especially with the ACP, Latin American and Mediterranean countries.