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 welcomes the strategy, which aims to harness the potential of offshore renewable energy for a climate neutral future, and the proposals to include marine renewable energy development objectives when drawing up national and regional maritime spatial management plans
The Committee considers that the strategy should include calculations of the contribution of wind energy to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero in 2050.
The Committee welcomes the view that a well-regulated energy market should provide appropriate investment signals: a predictable and stable regulatory environment plays a key role in the development of offshore wind energy.
The EESC believes that in the first instance, EU and national action should focus on unleashing the potential of the most advanced projects which are planned to be connected to the national electricity system in a radial form. In order to ensure the security of energy supply as well as social and economic cohesion within the EU, the Committee stresses the need for proportionate investment in offshore wind farms in all EU basins. The EESC supports the proposal to amend the TEN-E Regulation to include the one-stop-shop principle for offshore energy projects.
The EESC is disappointed by the perfunctory way in which the strategy addresses the issue of recycling used wind turbines and recommends that the Commission pay due attention to the issue of decommissioning costs. The EESC would like to highlight the fact that clean energy would improve not only air quality in the local environment, but the environment and climate as a whole.
The EESC is concerned about the lack of details regarding specific measures and support instruments, which may put the financing of renewables at risk. In the Committee's view, a single instrument dedicated to financing offshore wind energy projects should be created within existing programmes. Moreover, such an approach should be extended to other types of renewable energy sources, like onshore wind and photovoltaic power.
The Committee points out that any investment in offshore wind farms should contribute as much as possible to the socio-economic development of the regions in the immediate vicinity of the investment by promoting participation in the project – the "local content factor" - and welcomes the fact that the strategy is to be complemented by a plan for the development of skills and education systems in the field of offshore wind energy.
The EESC recognises the EU's desire to take the lead in the offshore wind energy sector and is pleased to support the expansion of wind energy on land as well as at sea. It therefore expects the Commission to complement the offshore strategy with an onshore strategy as soon as possible.