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The Sociaal-Economische Raad (Social and Economic Council; SER) is a major economic advisory council of the Dutch government. Formally it heads a system of sector-based regulatory organizations. It represents the social partners trade unions and employers' organizations. It forms the core organization of the corporatist and social market economy known as the polder model and the main platform for social dialogue.
The SER was founded in 1950. It was founded after a long debate about the economic order of the Netherlands. The two main governing parties of the time, the Catholic KVP and the social-democratic PvdA had differing opinions on the subject. Both wanted to prevent the repetition of the economic crisis of the 1930s. The social-democrats preferred to grant the government an important regulatory role in the economy, while the Catholics preferred to rely on the workings of a self-regulating market economy. A compromise was found in the corporatist model, in which both trade unions and employers' organizations would form sector-based regulatory organizations. The SER headed this structure and served as important partner for the national government. The SER was very important in the reconstruction of the Netherlands after the Second World War.
In the 1950s and 60s the SER was particularly successful in ensuring economic growth by close cooperation between government, trade unions and employers' organizations. In the 1970s because of rising political polarization and the oil crises the SER was unable to resolve economic problems. In the 1980s the SER returned to the centre of the economic policy making, as it was the platform for dialogue between the government and its social partners. In the 1990s the role of the SER began to change. The role of the sector-based regulatory organizations began to decline and the SER more and more took the role of an advisory council of government, In 1997 the Senate and House of Representatives were granted the right to submit enquiry commissions to the SER.
The SER has three main goals for Dutch social-economic policy:
- To promote balanced and sustainable economic growth;
- To promote full employment;
- To promote a fair income distribution.
The SER has thirty-three members. It consists of three sections, which each have eleven members in the council. These sections are trade unions, employers' organizations and government appointed members, the so-called Crown members. The trade union-members are appointed from the three major unions: FNV (8), CNV (2) and the MHP (1). The members of the employers' organizations are representatives from the three major employers' organizations: VNO-NCW (7), MKB (3) and the LTO (1). The government-appointed members are normally professors of economics or related fields and they include representatives of the economic planning agency CPB and the central bank DNB. The board of the SER is formed by four members of each section. The chair of the organization is always a government appointee.
The SER heads and oversees the system of sector-based regulatory organizations. These organizations can like other governments, provinces, water boards etc. enforce legislation for their members, in this case companies. The SER is financed by levies which companies pay to the chambers of commerce. It spends €14 million a year.
- 1950-1958: Frans de Vries
- 1958-1964: Gerard Marius Verrijn Stuart
- 1964-1985: Jan Willem de Pous
- 1985-1996: Theo Quené
- 1996-1998: Klaas de Vries
- 1999-2006: Herman Wijffels
- 2006-31 August 2012: Alexander Rinnooy Kan
- 1 September 2012-...: Wiebe Draijer