How effective are the Council’s advisory reports?

It is difficult to express the effectiveness of the Council’s advice in figures. It cannot be gauged simply by the impact on legislation and regulations, as not every report concerns a piece of proposed legislation. Often, the Council’s advice merely records its response or its views on a policy memorandum, for example. When such policies are turned into legislation, elements of the Council’s advice are often incorporated into the relevant act or regulation.

However, the effectiveness of the Council’s advice cannot be judged solely by the action the Cabinet takes based on that advice. What is also important is that the Council’s members – and their backers – engage in discussion. The added value of the Council also lies in bringing parties together and generating support for policy changes. How an advisory report contributes to generating such support can be measured by the degree to which the advice is unanimous. More than eighty percent of the Council’s advisory reports have the unanimous support of its members. In almost half the cases in which opinions are divided, the members agree on the overall principles but not on all the details. In approximately ten percent of the reports, the members disagree on the overall principles.

This is what the consultation economy is all about: its basic philosophy is that there is a need for mutual co-ordination and co-operation which arises from the following combination of facts and insights:

  • In a modern market economy, social and economic policy-making is not the exclusive domain of government. Some of the instruments of socio-economic policy – in particular wage-setting – are in the hands of the social partners.
  • Using these instruments involves important interdependencies: whereas e.g. tax policy will usually influence wage determination, wage policies will help to determine the outcomes of government policies in terms of employment.

These interdependencies mean that the mutual co-ordination of policies can improve performance in various fields of social and economic policy.