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 European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has called on EU leaders in a recently adopted opinion to step up efforts to strengthen the international role of the euro, on the eve of the Euro Summit taking place on Friday, 21 June in Brussels. It underlines that this would be desirable, but also necessary, as a strong euro would contribute to the wellbeing of EU citizens and businesses, uphold common values and promote common interests.
According to the Committee, further measures to enhance economic growth and resilience and the adjustment capacities of the euro area economies would eventually lead to a stronger international role for the euro. In its opinion, the EESC puts forward recommendations to this end, which go beyond the European Commission proposals.
Philip von Brockdorff, the rapporteur for the opinion, said: Enhancedsocial cohesion, economic convergence, competitiveness and innovation should be the basis for a stronger euro area economy that supports the euro. We need to do more in these fields and reduce divergences among and within Member States, which limit our economic performance.
Particularly in times of increased protectionism and almost stagnation of multilateral trade negotiations, the euro needs to play a more prominent role at international level. This is strategically significant and, from a trade perspective, vital for the future of the EU, he said.
Dimitris Dimitriadis, co-rapporteur for the opinion, added that an EU speaking with one voice could further contribute to this. A more unified approach in international diplomacy and a more pro-active stance to promote our common interest could result in more trade opportunities, he explained.
The completion of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the Banking Union is another clear priority for the EESC. In this context, the Committee recommends investigating options for creating more liquid and safer euro assets. These could counter the current fragmentation of the euro area's sovereign bond market, which harms market confidence in the single currency. Some degree of fiscal union would be needed, as coordination between fiscal and monetary policy across the euro area is crucial for macroeconomic stability and therefore market credibility.
Further requirements for enhancing the international role of the euro are, in the EESC's view:
an ECB that maintains price stability in accordance with its mandate and supports a deeper EMU and Capital Markets Union;
a stronger financial market infrastructure and solid interest rate benchmarks;
promoting a wider use of the euro in strategic sectors, such as energy and transport;
other measures to support SMEs and increase productivity as a means to enhance the euro area's competitiveness in international markets.
The Committee urges EU leaders to work towards enhanced international use of the euro within the ongoing debate on deepening the EMU because of the numerous benefits this will bring to EU citizens and businesses.
Lower exchange rate risk and associated costs for businesses, increased price transparency – which will allow firms to source cheaper raw material and consumers to buy cheaper goods – and more favourable financial borrowing conditions for businesses and governments are only some of these benefits. At international level, it would provide market participants with an additional choice, thereby reducing their exposure to currency-related shocks and contributing to economic and political stability.
The EESC notes that the international role of the euro has not yet recovered to the pre-financial crisis level. Whereas the European Commission's proposed measures are welcome and deemed necessary by the EESC, they may not go far enough given the extent of the euro area's social and economic challenges. Social cohesion, economic upward convergence and the promotion of competitiveness and innovation should be the basis on which the euro area's economy gathers pace and supports a stronger international role for the euro.
EESC opinion: Towards a stronger international role of the euro