European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee — January 2021
Article 300 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) — the EU’s advisory bodies
Article 301 TFEU (ex Article 258 TEC) — the European Economic and Social Committee
Article 302 (ex Article 259 TEC) — the European Economic and Social Committee
Article 303 (ex Article 260 TEC) — the European Economic and Social Committee
Article 304 (ex Article 262 TEC) — the European Economic and Social Committee
Article 13 Treaty on European Union (TEU) — Provisions on the institutions
WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE ARTICLES AND THE RULES OF PROCEDURE?
Article 300 TFEU states that the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission are assisted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), acting in an advisory capacity. The EESC consists of representatives of organisations of employers, of the employed and of other parties representative of civil society, notably in socioeconomic, civic, professional and cultural areas. EESC members are not bound by any mandatory instructions and are completely independent in the performance of their duties, in the EU’s general interest.
Article 301 TFEU lays down the maximum number of members of the EESC. It states that the Council unanimously adopts a decision fixing the EESC’s composition and determines its members’ allowances.
Article 302 TFEU sets out the length of EESC members’ appointment (renewable) and the appointment process, which is conducted by the Council after consulting the Commission.
Article 303 TFEU states that the EESC elects its president and adopt its rules of procedure.
Article 304 TFEU states that the EESC can be consulted by the European Parliament, the Council or the European Commission where the treaties so provide and in all cases in which they consider it appropriate. It may also issue own-initiative opinions whenever they consider such action appropriate. EESC opinions are forwarded to the Parliament, the Council and the Commission.
Article 13 TEU lists the EU institutions and states that the Parliament, the Council and the Commission are assisted by the EESC and the European Committee of the Regions, acting in an advisory capacity.
The EESC rules of procedure set out how the body operates and organises itself. They are adopted by the EESC assembly by an absolute majority.
The EESC’s rules of procedure codify the body’s internal operational rules and complement the foundational rules set out in Treaty on European Union (see summary) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (see summary).
The rules include a Code of Conduct for members covering:
The code establishes an ethical committee.
The EESC consists of the following.
- Employers’ organisations. Members from private and public sectors of industry, small businesses, chambers of commerce, wholesale and retail trade, banking and insurance and transport and agriculture (Group I).
- The employed. Members from national trade union organisations, both at the level of confederations and at that of sectoral federations (Group II).
- Other parties representative of civil society. Among others, farmer and consumer organisations, small businesses, the crafts sector, and liberal professions and NGOs in the field of social and environmental protection (Group III).
EESC members are proposed by the governments of the 27 EU countries and are appointed by the Council for 5 years. Council Decision (EU) 2019/853 sets the current number of members at 329 following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, whereas Article 301 TFEU provides for a maximum of 350 members. The current breakdown of members by country is as follows:
- 24 for Germany, France and Italy;
- 21 for Spain and Poland;
- 15 for Romania;
- 12 for Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Sweden;
- 9 for Denmark, Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Finland;
- 7 for Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia;
- 6 for Cyprus and Luxembourg;
- 5 for Malta.
The 3 groups elect their presidents and vice-presidents for a term of 2.5 years. They participate in the preparation, organisation and coordination of the EESC’s business.
The EESC’s role in the legislative procedure
The EESC produces opinions at the request of the Council, the Commission or the Parliament.
It may also deliver opinions on its own initiative, exploratory opinions at the request of the EU institutions or Council presidencies and information reports or resolutions on any questions relating to the tasks assigned to the EU.
The Committee consists of the following bodies.
The assembly. The EESC plenary assembly of all members meets in 9 sessions each year.
The presidency, comprising the president and the 2 vice-presidents.
The president, who:
- directs the work of the EESC;
- represents the EESC in its external relations;
- reports to the EESC on action and measures taken on its behalf;
- presents a work programme at the start of the term of office and reviews achievements at the end of the term.
2 vice-presidents, respectively in charge of budget and communication.
The enlarged presidency, comprising the president and the 2 vice-presidents and the 3 group presidents, which:
- prepares the work of the bureau and the assembly;
- facilitates the necessary decisions in cases of urgency or extraordinary circumstances.
The bureau, having political responsibility for the general management of the Committee, consists of:
- the president and the 2 vice-presidents;
- the 3 group presidents;
- the 6 section presidents;
- a variable number of members, which cannot exceed the number of EU countries.
The sections, whose task it is to adopt opinions or information reports on questions referred to them. There are 6 sections:
The EESC may also set up consultative commissions comprising EESC members and delegates from areas of civil society that the EESC wishes to involve in its work. The Consultative Commission on Industrial Change examines changes in industry across a wide range of sectors. It is established as a distinct body within the EESC and has a remit extended to all sectors of industry in both manufacturing and services.
The EESC also has:
3 observatories on:
2 ad hoc groups on:
a liaison group, whose task is to interact with European civil society organisations and networks and to monitor joint initiatives.
The EESC is supported by a permanent secretariat, led by a Secretary-General who is appointed by the bureau. The EESC shares some of its services (translation, IT, logistics) with the European Committee of the Regions.
FROM WHEN DO THE RULES OF PROCEDURE APPLY?
The current rules have been in force since 10 February 2021.
The EESC is based in Brussels.
For further information, see:
Our work (European Economic and Social Committee).
Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee January 2021 (OJ L 46, 10.2.2021, p. 47-81)
Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Six — Institutional and financial provisions — Title I — Institutional provisions — Chapter 3 — The Union’s advisory bodies — Article 300 (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 177)
Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — Part Six — Institutional and financial provisions — Title I — Institutional provisions — Chapter 3 — The Union’s advisory bodies — Section 1 — The Economic and Social Committee:
Article 301 (ex Article 258 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 177)
Article 302 (ex Article 259 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 178)
Article 303 (ex Article 260 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 178)
Article 304 (ex Article 262 TEC) (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 178)
Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union — Title III — Provisions on the institutions — Article 13 (OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, p. 22)
Council Decision (EU) 2019/853 of 21 May 2019 determining the composition of the European Economic and Social Committee (OJ L 139, 27.5.2019, pp. 15-16)
Protocol on cooperation between the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee (OJ C 102, 5.4.2012, pp. 1-5)
last update 26.02.2021