CES - Economic and Social Council of Spain
- Marcos Peña Pinto
- Soledad Córdova Garrido
The Economic and Social Council (CES) was set up under Law 21/1991 of 17 June 1991 (Bœ of 18 June 1991) for the purpose of reinforcing the participation of the economic and social players in economic and social life, thus reaffirming their role in the development of a social and democratic state governed by the rule of law.
The CES is a body which advises the government on socio-economic and labour matters. It has its own legal personality and has the full authority and organisational independence to carry out its duties.
The CES's tasks are:
- to issue opinions on draft state laws and draft royal legislative decrees concerning socio-economic and labour matters and on draft royal decrees that the government considers particularly relevant to these matters;
- to issue opinions on preliminary draft laws and draft administrative provisions which affect the organisation, powers or operation of the Council; on the dismissal of the president and secretary-general of the Council and on any other matter on which a law expressly stipulates that the Council has to be consulted;
- to issue opinions on other matters for which referral to the Council by the national government or its members is optional;
- to draw up, at the request of the government or its members or on its own initiative, studies and reports on economic and social matters falling within the remit of the social partners in the following areas: economy and taxation; labour relations; employment and social security; social affairs; agriculture and fisheries; education and culture; health and consumer affairs; environment; transport and communications; industry and energy; housing; regional development; European single market and development cooperation;
- to draw up and forward to the government annually, within the first five months of each year, a memorandum setting out its thoughts on the socio-economic and labour situation in the country.
CES has 61 members appointed by the government and divided up as follows:
- The president.
- Twenty members forming group one, appointed by the most representative trade union organisations, in proportion to their representativeness.
- Twenty members forming group two, appointed by the most representative employers organisations, in proportion to their representativeness.
- Twenty members forming group three:
a) three proposed by the farming sector
b) three by the maritime fishing organisations
c) four by the Consumers and Users Council
d) four by the associations of cooperatives and workers societies, representing the social economy sector
e) six experts appointed by the national government on a joint proposal by the ministers for labour and social affairs and for economic and financial affairs, after prior consultation of the organisations represented in the Council, from amongst persons with special training and recognised experience in the socio-economic and labour sphere.
The mandate of the Council's members and its president is for four years, renewable for four-year periods. The mandate of members appointed to fill an interim vacancy expires at the same time as that of the other members of the Council.
The constituent bodies of the CES are the plenary assembly, standing committee and working committees. The Council's officers are the president, vice-presidents and secretary-general.
- The plenary assembly comprises all the members under the direction of the president assisted by the secretary-general.
- The standing committee comprises six representatives from each of the groups under the direction of the president assisted by the secretary-general.
- The president of the CES is appointed by the national government on a joint proposal by the ministers for labour and social affairs and for economic and financial affairs, after prior consultation of the representative groups in the Council and provided that he/she has the support of at least two thirds of the Council's members.
- The vice-presidents. The CES has two vice-presidents elected by the plenary assembly on a proposal by and from among the members of group one and group two respectively. The vice-presidents carry out the duties expressly assigned to them by the president and stand in for him/her in the event that the post is vacant or the president is unable to attend or ill.
- The secretary-general is appointed and dismissed by the government on a joint proposal by the ministers for labour and social affairs and for economic and financial affairs, after prior consultation of the representative groups in the Council and provided that he/she has the support of at least two thirds of the Council's members.
The working committees are:
- working committee for economic and financial matters;
- working committee for the European single market, regional development and development cooperation;
- working committee for agriculture and fisheries;
- working committee for labour relations, employment and social security;
- working committee for sectoral policies and environment;
- working committee for health, consumer affairs, social affairs, education and culture;
- working committee for the drawing up the memorandum on the socio-economic and labour situation in Spain;
- ad hoc working committee to deal with the social and employment situation of women in Spain;
- committee for publications and institutional activities;
- committee for external activities.
The operation of the CES is governed by law 21/1991 of 17 June 1991 setting up the Council, by the rules on its internal organisation and operation approved by the plenary assembly on 25 February 1993 and by the implementing guidelines and instructions issued by the Council itself.
The Council's plenary sessions are open to the public, although the plenary assembly may decide to hold certain debates in private. The CES's sessions may be attended by members of the government provided they notify the president in advance or are invited by the Council. They may address the assembly. Other authorities and government officials may also be invited or authorised to attend the sessions to provide information or reply to questions on matters for which they are responsible.
The CES holds an ordinary plenary session at least once a month. Extraordinary sessions may also be convened on the initiative of the president in agreement with the standing committee or at the request of at least twenty members.
The standing committee holds an ordinary meeting at least once a month and may be convened for an extraordinary meeting whenever necessary.
The working committees draw up their own rules for convening meetings and working methods.
Meetings are quorate if a majority of members are present.
The CES's views on matters referred to it under the obligatory or optional referral procedures are set out in "opinions". These are not binding on the government.
The opinions are issued by the plenary assembly or by the standing committee when so delegated by the former.
The CES's opinions are drawn up individually and contain the background, an assessment and conclusions. They are signed by the secretary-general and countersigned by the president and are accompanied by the result of the vote, if one was held. An opinion on a matter referred to the Council is forwarded to the body which requested it.
The Council must issue its opinion within the deadline set by the government or ministers or, when applicable, in the document requesting the opinion.
The period within which an opinion has to be issued may not be less than fifteen days unless the government decides that the matter is urgent, in which case the period may not be less than ten days.
The rules lay down an urgency procedure for opinions required within fifteen days or less.