The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a consultative body of the European Union to which I was appointed in 2002 and subsequently reappointed by 4 UK Prime Ministers.
In short (these are my words, not the official description!!) before legislation and directives can be made the Committee should be consulted on the impacts of these regulations on civil society.
The Committee is made up of 350 members from across the 28 member states representing organised civil society. For this it is split into 3 Groups – the Employers (of which I am a member) the Trade Unions and various Interests (academia, consumers, women groups, farmers ….basically everybody else!)
Our work is conducted through meeting around topics, called study groups, where policy can be influenced. Sometimes we are officially asked to comment, other times we chose to raise an issue of importance. However, the result must be a consensus of the 3 Groups and is voted on by all the member at the plenary.
Each Member State government appoints their Members in different ways but officially the Member is independent of the views of the Government. My appointment was granted by the UK Prime Minister, but all members have to also be endorsed by the Council of Ministers. The position is an unpaid role where our expenses are reimbursed.
I have written many opinions during my period of office, have participated in a wide range of study groups. At the same time, I have brought the knowledge and information back from Brussels and spoken to UK groups, within schools, at seminars and conferences across the world representing business, women, the UK and the EESC opinions.
Working at a high political level with the EU Commission, EU Parliament and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Offices, as well as business organisations, has allowed me to influence policy which will benefit men, women and children across the world.