The European Economic and Social Committee was created in 1957 as part of the Rome Treaty. It is an advisory body, which represents the economic and social activities in the European Union, and more specifically in the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament. Its first aim is to connect different interest groups in order to create and consolidate the Common Market. Originally called “The Economic and Social Committee”, its name was changed to “the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)”. The Headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium.
The current President of the EESC is Christa Schweng. She is an Austrian lawyer from Vienna elected on October 2020 for two years and a half. She has been a member of the European Economic and Social Committee since 1998.
The EESC gathers representatives operating in various fields, such as the following: agriculture, climate action, energy, employment, environment, migration, research, etc.
Each member is a representative of civil organisations, such as businesses or trade unions, and they can give their opinion on EU matters and legislative proposals. The 329 members from all of the countries of the European Union are divided in three different groups:
-Civil Society Organisations
The number of members per country depends on the population of each country and the members are elected for five years.
Therefore, the EESC gives the opportunity to civil parties to participate in the making of European laws and major decisions, and in this sense to increase the democracy inside the European Union. The three European institutions involved can take counsel from the Committee since it can give its own opinion on several subjects. All of the members meet 9 times in a year and all of the decisions are taken by vote, with the majority of all the members.
The three main rules of the European Economic and Social Committee are the following:
-Making sure that the European laws are adopted in the interest of all and that the social conditions are respected
–Promoting the cooperative and equal European Union in the decisions making and the open dialogue for all workers
–Promoting the European values such as equality and democracy
The European Economic and Social Committee can be considered as a crossover between the European institutions, the decisions makers and the European citizens and workers. It earned more powers after the 1972 Paris Summit, when its right to take its own decision was adopted. Before this date, the EESC did not have any room for manoeuvre and was entirely dependent on the European Institutions because the members could only meet when the European Commission requested it. Moreover, only few subjects could be approached by the Committee, such as agriculture and transport, for example.
In the last few months, the focus of the EESC has been given to COP 26, the Civil Society Against COVID-19, and the Conference on the Future of Europe. The Committee also organises social and cultural events to increase its action and to gather European citizens all together.
European Economic and Social Committee. 2022. About | European Economic and Social Committee. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.eesc.europa.eu/en/about. [Accessed 08 July 2022].
European Union. 2022. EESC. [ONLINE] Available at: https://european-union.europa.eu/institutions-law-budget/institutions-and-bodies/institutions-and-bodies-profiles/eesc_en. [Accessed 08 July 2022].
The EIB.org. 2022. The European Economic and Social Committee. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.eib.org/en/about/eu-family/eesc.htm. [Accessed 08 July 2022].
www.riob.org. 2022. No page title. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.riob.org/fr/file/256514/download?token=ur024NeZ. [Accessed 08 July 2022].
Written by Cécile Mayeres
She holds a Master’s degree in Translation and Cross-Cultural Communication with a specialization in European mobility. She now does a traineeship in Communication at the Terminology Coordination Unit.