The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a consultative body that gives representatives of Europe's socio-occupational interest groups and others a formal platform to express their points of view on EU issues. Its opinions are addressed to the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament. It thus has a key role to play in the Union's decision-making process. The EESC supports the EU's regional policy efforts to reinforce solidarity and promote development. Its opinions have always emphasised the policy's active role in strengthening cohesion among the different regions of the EU. The EESC is an advocate of the partnership principle and helps ensure that it is put into practice. Beyond its opinions, the EESC, through its members, is proactive in discussions and in supporting civil society activities. There is also a keen interest in reinforcing territorial cooperation which reaches beyond administrative borders and addresses the real needs at local level (such as in macro-regional and functional urban areas). The EESC has actively supported and appealed for European initiatives in favour of the development and the integration of urban areas across the European Union.