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 still considers that Turkey remains a very important partner and that the political will exists to increase levels of cooperation, but only provided that compliance with the fundamental European values and the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights is ensured.
The EESC believes that ongoing developments have rendered the current Customs Union (CU) agreement obsolete and that the parties to the agreement will have to start serious negotiations on strengthening their economic ties by establishing a new type of trade agreement that reflects current needs. The recent adjustments and best practices implemented in various trade agreements have transformed models for sustainability, transparency and the involvement of the social partners and civil society in international trade agreements.
The EESC proposes that the following areas be included in the regulatory framework of the new agreement:
agriculture (with all the requirements set out in the opinion)
unprocessed products and raw materials
environmental protection and sustainable development
equivalence of regulatory regimes for veterinary, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and of food safety policy
effective protection of labour rights and decent jobs
protection of health and safety in the workplace
facilitation of e-commerce and introduction of a digital agenda that establishes free movement of digital data
energy policy and energy security
promotion of innovation and protection of intellectual property
combating corruption and money laundering
improved incentives for SMEs
simplified administrative procedures and reduced administrative costs
investment and updating of investment legislation with the aim of protecting investors, and concurrent introduction of an impartial dispute settlement procedure
improvement of the procedure for transposing and incorporating European legislation into the Turkish legal system
more robust provisions to ensure that the content of the revised agreement and the implementing provisions complies with the EU acquis.
The EESC believes that any type of trade agreement between the EU and Turkey will have to include effective consultation and inclusion of the social partners (employers and employees) and of civil society organisations at both the negotiating and implementation stages.