What is the SER?

The Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) is an advisory body in which employers, employees and independent experts (Crown-appointed members) work together to reach agreement on key social and economic issues.

The SER advises the Dutch government and Parliament on social and economic policy. It also facilitates agreements. Examples are the creation of the Dutch Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth and various agreements on international responsible business conduct. In addition, the SER carries out administrative tasks, for example to promote employee participation.

SER objectives

The SER works to achieve social welfare for everyone. This is embedded in the objectives of the SER:

  • A strong and sustainable economy
  • in which as many people as possible are in work
  • and a fair distribution of income.

The SER has substantial in-house expertise, enabling it to provide good-quality advice and recommendations. But quality alone is not enough; recommendations must also enjoy considerable support in society. For this reason, in arriving at its recommendations the SER engages in dialogue with all stakeholders. In brief, the motto of the SER is ‘Denkwerk, voor Draagvlak door Dialoog’ [Thinking, for Support through Dialogue].

The SER is independent

The SER is both substantively and financially independent. Although it was established by law, the SER is not a government institution. The SER is funded indirectly by industry through the General Unemployment Fund [Algemeen Werkloosheidsfonds] (Awf).

SER and the consultative economy

In the Netherlands, we want to achieve agreement on social and economic policy through consultation. This takes place at different levels. In companies, the Works Council consults with management. At industry level, trade unions negotiate with employers’ organisations regarding Collective Labour Agreements (CLAs). At the national level, there are the SER and the Labour Foundation [Stichting van de Arbeid] [link]. All these various types of consultation form part of the consultative economy.