Resource Centre > Key Players > European Economic and Social Committee

The European Economic and Social Committee was set up in 1957, to involve economic and social interest groups in the establishment of the common market and to brief other bodies (in particular the Council of Ministers and the Commission) on issues relevant to these groups. Later, the amendments of the EC Treaty (Single European Act, Maastricht Treaty, and Amsterdam Treaty) increased its advisory role. The Committee is an advisory and representative body, playing an important part in the policymaking and lawmaking process. At present, it is mandatory for the Council and the Commission to obtain the Committee’s opinion in some cases. The European Parliament can also consult the Committee. The Committee also issues opinions of its own initiative. 

The EESC also plays an informational and integration role: organising events which aim at increasing social participation in the EU policymaking processes. It regularly issues publications on issues such as European civil society, better regulation, co-regulation and self-regulation.

It has a number of Sections dealing with various areas of EU policy: such as the ECO section covering the economic and monetary union, the INT section to cover market, production and consumption (also involved in collective redress issues), and the SMO Section (Single Market Observatory). 

The 344 members of the EESC are drawn from economic and social interest groups in Europe. They are nominated by national governments and appointed by the Council of the European Union for a renewable 4-year term of office. The next renewal will take place on October 2010. They belong to one of three groups: 1. Employers, 2. Employees, and 3. Various interests (social, occupational, economic and cultural organizations). 

The Committee takes interest in the latest policy initiatives concerning collective redress:

See the Opinion “Defining the collective actions system and its role in the context of Community consumer law(own-initiative opinion) of 14 February 2008 (INT/348) in which the EESC makes concrete proposals on collective redress mechanism to be introduced on the EU level, with a set of parameters which such a mechanism should meet, its legal form and legal basis. 

See the latest – Opinion on White Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules COM(2008) 165 final, of 25 March 2009, INT/429, in which the EESC agrees with the Commission’s recommendations on the introduction of a combination of a representative action and an opt-in collective action to supplement the public enforcement of competition law. However, the EESC also emphasises that these mechanisms ought to have compensation only as their goal, that the national procedural rules and arrangements ought to be respected, and that no contingency fee system ought to be introduced to finance such actions.