Continuity and Change
- Studies in EU Reform and Enlargement series
Edited by Edward Best, Thomas Christiansen and Pierpaolo Settembri
Chapter 8: The European Economic and Social Committee after Enlargement
Nieves Pérez-Solórzano Borragán and Stijn Smismans The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) was created by the Rome Treaty as an advisory committee to the European Commission and the Council of Ministers. It was thought at the time that decision-making in the socio-economic areas delegated to the EEC would proﬁt from the advice of a committee composed of the main sectoral interests in these areas, such as management, labour, craft, and agricultural organizations. The institutional set-up of the EESC has not been substantially changed since, but the Committee has had to compete increasingly with other fora of consultation which have often proved more eﬃcient access channels for the interest groups concerned, such as specialized advisory committees in speciﬁc sectors, the European social dialogue procedure or – simply – direct lobbying of the main Community institutions. By the end of the 1990s, the EESC attempted (again1) to reinvent itself, this time by stressing its role as representative of organized civil society in a European Union ever more in search of legitimacy (Smismans 2000, 2004, pp. 123–82). It is in this institutional context that one should place the EESC’s adjustment to the EU’s eastward enlargement since 2004.2 Like all EU institutions the EESC had to integrate a high number of new members from countries with a considerably diﬀerent political, socio-economic and cultural background. Yet the main changes that have occurred in the functioning and role of the Committee over the last few years are not necessarily...
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