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.
At its plenary meeting on 17 March 2016, the European Economic and Social Committee gave a clear message to the European Commission, calling on it to draw up conclusive proposals which go further in completing Europe's Economic and Monetary Union without delay. In a package of opinions, the Committee put forward the points of view of the social partners and civil society on the package of proposals for Deepening EMU which the Commission published at the end of last year.
In its overarching opinion on Steps towards completing Economic and Monetary Union, the Committee welcomes the Commission's endeavour to implement stage one of the Five Presidents' Report (Deepening by doing 2015-2017), but at the same time voices its concerns that the issue of democratic legitimacy is not tackled seriously by any of the Commission's proposals. The tripartite social dialogue for example could contribute to addressing this, provided that it is structured and the agreements between the parties made mandatory. The EESC further declares its commitment to putting forward, possibly with the Commission, a plan on stage two (Completing EMU 2017-2025) to discuss these issues in the Member States, beginning with the euro area countries.
The EESC makes also several important recommendations as regards the Commission's specific proposals:
In its opinion on the Establishment of national competitiveness boards within the euro area the Committee recommends updating the definition of competitiveness (competitiveness 2.0) in the future to include "Beyond-GDP" objectives, based on the Europe 2020 objectives. Competitiveness is not an end in itself. It is only a sensible objective if it improves people's well-being in practice. Future discussions should therefore refer not to "competitiveness boards" but to "boards for competitiveness, social cohesion and sustainability". More precisely, the EESC asks the Commission to put forward concrete proposals to safeguard the following: accountability, legitimacy and transparency of the boards; representation of balanced unbiased expertise; the non-binding character of proposals of the boards; the inclusion of the dual role of wages, both as a cost factor and as the main determinant of domestic demand.
In its opinion on the European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS), the Committee recommends that the introduction of further risk sharing be accompanied by further risk reduction in the banking sector. Both have to be dealt with in parallel and without delay and actually put into effect. The Committee believes that an EDIS will have a crucial impact on the situation of individual Member States and banks by being more able to cushion local shocks. This may discourage speculation against specific countries or banks, thus reducing the risk of bank runs. At the same time, it will further weaken the link between the banks and their national sovereigns. To achieve the desired results, it is imperative that the existing legislative framework of Banking Union (BRRD and DGS Directives) is fully implemented by all Member States.
In its opinion on the Euro area's external representation, the Committee highlights the clear need to strengthen the area's relative weight in international financial institutions and give it a more prominent position in international financial markets. The EESC endorses the rationale behind the Commission proposals to that effect and agrees with the main elements of the three-phase scenario to gain a single chair at the IMF by 2025. In the EESC's view, the corresponding political pressure must be marshalled to secure the timely fulfilment of obligations and commitments stemming from this for the Member States. The EESC also recommends to define clearly and explicitly the role of euro area external representation and to coordinate it with that of the EU as a whole, with a view to preserving the integrity of the single market.