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.
believes that the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak represents an exceptional emergency, on a scale unprecedented since the days of the Second World War, and that, given its gravity, it must be addressed by the European Union without delay;
believes that the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) is a tangible expression of EU solidarity and subsidiarity, whereby Member States stay united and agree to support one another by making additional financial resources available through the EU budget. The EESC reaffirms that these provisions demonstrate that the EU must be considered to be not only a community of financial and economic interests but also – and above all – a community of common destiny, and that this principle must govern its policies, as must the principle of promoting the well-being of the European people, as set out in the Treaty on European Union (TEU);
understands that the Commission's proposal is only one element in a package of contingency measures for supporting Member States and their citizens in addressing the COVID-19 outbreak;
fully agrees with the extension of the scope of the EUSF to include major public health emergencies and to define specific operations eligible for financing in order to tackle the epidemic crisis;
considers that the EUSF is a financial instrument that can provide assistance to populations affected by a health emergency such as COVID-19, to contribute to a rapid return to normal living conditions in the affected regions and to contain the spread of infectious diseases;
welcomes the increase in advance payments from the current level of 10% of the expected amount to 25%, but the unexpected epidemic crisis means that more needs to be done to ensure that the response is extremely rapid and effective;
although welcomes the intention to increase the total level of appropriations for EUSF advances in the annual budget from EUR 50 million to EUR 100 million, it considers this amount to be completely inadequate for the size of the emergency being faced;
asks from the Commission to encourage Member States to maintain a permanent dialogue with Organised civil society, in particular associations, NGOs and social and economic partners and to consult them when preparing their applications;
urges the Council and the European Parliament to adopt the Regulation amending the EUSF speedily.
Position paper - Financial assistance to Member States affected by a major public health emergency