The EU includes a number of other bodies that play a role in the legislative process. These are the European Economic and Social Committee (the EESC) and the committee of the regions (the CoR).
The EESC has 344 members, allocated to member states by population and appointed by national governments for terms of five years. Members are drawn from three groups in each member state.
1. Group 1 - Employers (approximately half from industry, the rest from the public and commercial sectors)
2. Group 2 - Workers (generally representatives of national trade unions)
3. Group 3 - 'Various interests' (including agriculture, small and medium enterprises, professional bodies, local authorities, consumer groups etc)
The EESC aims to provide a voice for sectional interests in the EU decision-making process, supplementing the 'popular will' expressed by the EP.
The EESC engages in three types of work:
1. Mandatory consultations - In some areas, the EESC must have given an opinion for legislative proposals to proceed. These are agriculture, free movement of labour, internal market issues, economic and social cohesion, social policy and the European Social Fund, regional policy and the European Regional Development Fund, the environment, research, training and education, employment, transport, taxation, and public health and consumer protection - as stated in the Maastricht treaty and the Euratom treaty.
2. Optional consultations - The council and commission may refer any matter to the EESC for consultation as they see fit.
3. Own initiative work - The EESC is empowered to launch investigations of its own and to publish the findings.
The Committee Of The Regions plays a similar role to that of the EESC, providing a voice for local and regional bodies in the EU decision-making process and to act as a guardian of the principle of subsidiarity.
The CoR has 344 members from the 27 EU countries, and its work is organised in six different commissions
Like the EESC, the CoR engages in three types of work:
1. Mandatory consultations - The CoR must be consulted by the council or the commission on matters with cross-border implications, economic and social cohesion, transport, telecoms and energy networks, public health, education, training and youth policy and culture.
2. Optional consultations - The council, commission or EP may seek the CoR's opinion on any matter as they see fit.
3. Own initiative work - The CoR must be informed whenever the ESC is consulted on a matter, and has the right to issue an opinion if it believes that regional interests are affected. The CoR may also launch investigations at its own initiative.
There are also many other EU bodies that have important executive responsibilities, but none are involved in the actual decision-making processes.