Monday, August 3, 2015

Information on the European Economic and Social Committee.


The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) was established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. 
Its main function is to serve as a bridge between Europe and organised civil society, therefore allowing for the representation of various economic and social interest groups. 
The EESC contributes to strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the EU as it is the only EU body made up of citizens and not politicians.


The EESC gives Europe’s social and economic groups a platform to express their points of view on EU issues. The main task of the EESC is to offer opinions and advise the main legislative and executive institutions of the EU; the European Parliament, The Council of the European Union and the European Commission.
In certain cases, it is mandatory procedure for the Commission or the Council to consult the EESC. Additionally, the EESC may also adopt positions on its own initiative. The Amsterdam Treaty (1997) further broadened the areas for referral to the Committee, and allows it to be consulted by the European Parliament. The Committee issues around 170 opinions annually, of which 15% are issued on its own initiative.

Make-up of the EESC

There are 353 committee members representing 28 Member States including 9 positions for Irish representatives. These members are nominated by their respective Member State governments, and then appointed by the Council. Once appointed, these representatives act independently of their national governments. They have a renewable term of office of five years.
Every two and a half years the Committee elects a President and two Vice Presidents. The current president is Henri Malosse from France and his vice-presidents are Jane Morrice and Hans Joachim Wilms from the United Kingdom and Germany respectively. The president is responsible for the orderly conduct of the Committee’s business. He is assisted by the vice-presidents, who deputize for him in the event of his absence.
The Committee is organised into six sections, each one dealing with a specific policy area.
  • Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment (NAT)
  • Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion (ECO)
  • Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC)
  • External Relations (REX)
  • The Single Market, Production and Consumption (INT)
  • Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN)
Furthermore members are split into general groups within the EESC depending on their foremost activities. There are 3 groups
  • Employers – consisting of members coming from the private and public sectors of industry.
  • Employees – representing all categories of employees. The members of this group represent national trade union organisations.
  • Various Interests Group – Bringing together representatives from sectors of economic, social and civil life that are not covered by the first two groups.
As a rule, the full Committee meets in plenary session nine times a year. At the plenary sessions, opinions are adopted on the basis of section opinions by a simple majority. They are forwarded to the institutions and published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
This article was originally published on the European Movement of Ireland 's "Just the Facts" web-page!

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