The European Economic and Social Committee was established in 1957 as a forum to discuss issues regarding the single market. The EESC gives Europe's interest groups –trade unionists, employers, farmers – a formal say on EU legislative proposals.
On average the EESC delivers 170 advisory documents and opinions a year. All opinions are forwarded to the EU decision-making bodies and then published in the EU's Official Journal.
The European Economic and Social Committee has 353 members drawn from economic and social interest groups across Europe. Members are nominated by national governments and appointed by the Council of the European Union for a renewable 5-year term. Members of the EESC are unpaid but receive allowances to cover their travel expenses and accommodation when attending meetings.
Members belong to one of three groups:
The number of members from each country depends on the national population:
- Germany, France, Italy, UK – 24 members
- Spain, Poland – 21 members
- Romania – 15 members:
- Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria – 12 members:
- Denmark, Ireland, Croatia, Finland, Lithuania, Slovakia – 9 members
- Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia – 7 members
- Luxemburg, Cyprus – 6 members
- Malta – 5 members