The EESC steers a network of national economic and social councils (ESCs), with which the EESC shares a mission and assignment: all help build trust between citizens and public authorities. In most of the 27 EU Member States, there is a national economic and social council ensuring economic and social stakeholders' participation in public decision-making.
The informal "Annual Meetings of the Presidents and Secretaries-General of the EU ESCs and the EESC" have become the main pillar of this long-term and structured cooperation. They are aimed at exchanging views on the composition, operation and ongoing work of the respective institutions and drawing on best practices as well as discussing topical European issues and matters covered by all the ESCs.
In the light of ongoing European integration, technological transformation and ever-increasing globalisation, the need for more specific cooperation focused on major current European issues has become more pressing. Today, the yearly gathering of presidents and secretaries-general culminates usually in a joint declaration including concrete recommendations and suggestions on EU policies addressed to the presidents of the European institutions.
In more practical terms, the cooperation takes place within the EESC's European Semester Group, in regular joint conferences and seminars on topical issues and through the joint CESlink portal.
Although the national ESCs' organisational structure, composition and working methods vary substantially, their cooperation with the EESC is a very effective way to bring the "Brussels agenda" closer to the European citizens and to better involve civil society in the EU decision-making process.
Relations and dialogue with ESCs in non-EU countries are monitored by the EESC's section for External Relations (REX). The REX Section works with ACP countries, Latin America & Caribbean countries, the USA, Canada, Euro-Mediterranean partners, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Turkey, the Western Balkans, Russia, China, Japan and Korea. Yearly Euromed Summits gather a range of economic and social councils or similar institutions, representatives of employers, trade unions, other economic and social interest groups and NGOs from countries which are members of the Union for the Mediterranean.