European Economic and Social Committee
|European Economic and
|Represents||Employers, employees and various interest groups|
|Seat||Delors building, Brussels|
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The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a consultative body of the European Union (EU) established in 1958. It is a consultative assembly composed of employers (employers' organisations), employees (trade unions) and representatives of various other interests. Its seat, which it shares with the Committee of the Regions, is the Delors building in Brussels.
It was established by the Treaty of Rome of 1957 in order to unite different economic interest groups to establish a Single Market. The creation of this committee gave them an institution to allow their voices to be heard by the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament.
It is mandatory for the Committee to be consulted on those issues stipulated in the Treaties and in all cases where the institutions deem it appropriate. The Treaty of Maastricht considerably enlarged the Committee's domain. Its influence now extends to matters such as social policy, social and economic cohesion, environment, education, health, customers protection, industry, Trans-European Networks, indirect taxation and structural funds. On certain issues the EESC works in partnership with the Committee of the Regions.
In latest years the Committee has taken up the challenge of civil society, opening up its forum to representatives of all sectors, developing two complementary missions:
- Involving civil society organisations more in the European venture, at both national and European level,
- Boosting the role of civil society organisations in non-member countries or country groupings where the Committee is furthering structured dialogue with civil society organisations, and promoting the creation of consultative structures based on its experiences, not least in the countries applying for EU membership, the Mediterranean partner countries, African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, India, China, Latin America (Mercosur) and Brazil.
As said, it is mandatory for the Committee to be consulted on those issues stipulated in the Treaties and in all cases where the institutions deem it appropriate. The EESC may also be consulted on an exploratory basis by one of the other institutions, and may issue opinions on its own initiative (around 15% of its opinions are own-initiative opinions).
Own-initiative and exploratory opinions often raise the awareness of decision-making bodies, and of the Commission in particular, about subjects which have hitherto barely attracted their attention, if at all. Exploratory opinions drawn up at the request of other institutions before the Commission has even drafted its proposals enable the various components of organised civil society represented within the EESC to express the expectations, concerns and needs of grassroots stakeholders.
The Committee adopts on average 170 opinions a year on a wide range of subjects concerning European integration. It therefore plays an active role in the processes of shaping Community policies and preparing Community decisions.
Currently, EESC membership numbers 353 (same as the Committee of the Regions). The number of members per EU state varies according to the population of each state (see table below for state-by-state membership figures; the breakdown is the same for the Committee of the Regions). Members of the EESC are divided into three groups of equal number, employers, employees and a third group of various other changing interests such as: farmers, consumer groups, professional associations and so on.
Members are appointed by the Council (by qualified majority) following nominations made by the government of the respective Member State. However, once appointed, the members are completely independent of their governments. They have a renewable term of office of five years. The President of the EESC, elected for a two-and-a-half year term, is Henri Malosse (since April 2013) and the Secretary-General is Martin Westlake.
|24||Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom|
|12||Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary|
|9||Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovakia|
|7||Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia|
Under the Treaties, the Committee is the institutional body for representing civil society organisations. As Jacques Delors reiterated for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first EESC plenary (1958–2008), the contributions of the EESC on civil and social matters have been remarkable along its fifty years of life. Challenges and future expectations are consistently ambitious. Thanks to its membership and unique role in the EU’s institutional framework, the Committee will in future have special responsibility for making a reality of participatory democracy and for working towards the development of structured dialogue between organised civil society and Union institutions.
The Lisbon Treaty has confirmed the EESC role and influence. Indeed, significant prospects for the development of participatory democracy are opened through Article 11 of the new Treaty on the European Union, which lays the foundations for the future establishment of a genuine structured civil dialogue at European level alongside the political dialogue between the EU and its Member States and the social dialogue with the social partners, thereby ensuring sustainable participation of organised civil society in the European political process. In this context, the EESC has a particular responsibility in bringing participatory democracy to life. In view of its membership and role, as laid down in the Treaties, and in partnership with the other institutions, the Committee's purpose is to be even more in the future the means of developing participatory democracy and civil dialogue at Union level.
- European Trade Union Confederation
- European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest
- United Nations Economic and Social Council
- The European Economic and Social Committee 50 years of participatory democracy, C.S. Dimitrioulas Scientific Direction, European Economic and Social Committee Brussels 2008
- Official website
- List of Members
- MCE European NAvigator, Economic and social committee
- Group I Employers Group of the Economic and social committee
- Group II Employees Group of the Economic and social committee
- Group III Various Interests Group of the Economic and social committee