I have been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) for the past six years. The EESC is an advisory body representing workers’ and employers’ organisations and other interest groups. It has 350 members representing all EU countries. EESC members represent the two sides of industry and social interest groups from across Europe. They are nominated by national governments and appointed by the Council of the EU for renewable five-year terms. The number of members per country depends on the Member State’s population. The Committee was established in 1957 as one of the European institutions and its location is in Brussels (Belgium).
The EESC drafts opinions on EU policies, proposed directives and regulations. In line with the EU Treaties, these opinions are forwarded to the European Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament, thus acting as a bridge between the EU’s decision-making institutions and EU citizens.
In essence, the EESC gives members and the interest groups a formal say on EU legislative proposals. Its key tasks are (i) to ensure that EU policy and law are geared to economic and social conditions, by seeking a consensus that serves the common good (ii) to promote a participatory EU by giving workers’ and employers’ organisations and other interest groups a voice and ensuring dialogue with them; and (iii) to promote the values of European integration, and advance the cause of participatory democracy and civil society organisations.
EESC meetings are prepared by the EESC’s specialised sections and the consultative commission on industrial change. The EESC’s specialist think-tanks (known as ‘observatories’) and the European Semester Group track the progress of EU social and economic policies.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations and the internal market. Members participate in one or more of these sections depending on their areas of expertise, and it is here that much of the groundwork on opinions is carried out. The EESC also has a Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI), which helps EU industry anticipate and adapt to the impact of globalisation.
The EESC’s sections are the following:
Economic and Monetary Union, Economic and Social Cohesion – ECO
Single Market, Production and Consumption – INT
Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society – TEN
External Relations – REX
Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment – NAT
Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship – SOC
Consultative Commission on Industrial Change – CCMI
The EESC keeps in touch with regional and national economic and social councils throughout the EU – mainly to share information and discuss particular issues.
My role at EESC as member of the Workers Group and section member of ECO, INT and SOC requires a high level of commitment. I have served on as rapporteur, president or study group member on several opinions of EU importance involving regular meetings with Commission officials and the attendance (presently online) at the Brussels Economics Forum and relevant meetings/conferences at the European Parliament or elsewhere on behalf of EESC.
I have selected some opinions that I drafted as a member of the EESC: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a pan-European Personal Pension Product (PEPP); Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/2004; Towards a stronger international Role of the euro; Enhancing Sustainable Growth Across the EU; Annual Growth Strategy 2020 (additional opinion). These opinions carry legal weight in that the Commission is obliged to note and provide feedback on their content. Drafting opinions requires a high level of expertise and where possible the position of three groups represented at EESC must feature in the content.
Published 13 May 2021