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.
Wildlife trafficking has become one of the most profitable illegal activities in the world due to strong demand and a low risk of detection. In its opinion, the EESC welcomes the proposed EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking and highlights that this crime should be countered at different levels of the supply chain:
At the community level in source countries, the priority must be both awareness and creation of sustainable sources of jobs and income.
At the organised crime level, the priority is both enforcing a system of common, effective, proportional and dissuasive controls and sanctions, and providing the resources for the policing efforts.
At the demand level, both from the perspective of businesses and consumers, the priority must be awareness-raising, traceability and labelling.
At the judiciary level, the priority must be on enforcement through focused training of judges to ensure that there is consistency and proportionality in sentencing.
The EESC is missing any reference to the threat represented to public health and to native animal and plant species. This issue is highly relevant and should absolutely be included in the EU Action Plan. Labelling and traceability systems would be appropriate means to counter the emergence and spread of diseases.
The EESC also refers to e-commerce, which is the new and rapidly growing method for illegal wildlife trade. Certain Member States are already addressing illegal e-commerce and such best practices should be considered.
To support the objectives of this Action Plan, the Committee urges the EU to take a strong position during the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In particular, the EESC calls for the Commission to support the proposal for the closure of domestic markets for ivory as a critical contribution to the prevention of the threat of extinction to African elephants.