European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is an advisory body of the European Union (EU). It was set up in 1957 by the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community to represent the interests of the various economic and social groups.
The EESC consists of a maximum of 350 members from organised civil society (Article 301 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). They fall into three groups representing the interests of employers, workers and particular types of activity (such as farmers, craftsmen, small businesses and industry, the professions, consumer representatives, scientists and teachers, cooperatives, families, environmental movements). The members of the EESC are appointed for five years and this term may be renewed by a decision of the Council taken unanimously on a proposal from the Commission.
The EESC may be consulted by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in the cases envisaged by the Treaties. It may also issue opinions on its own initiative.
Consequently, it is consulted before a great many instruments concerning the internal market, education, consumer protection, environment, regional development and social affairs are adopted. Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam (May 1999), the EESC has to be consulted on an even wider range of issues such as the new employment policy, the new social affairs legislation, public health and equal opportunities.