For 40 years the National Economic and Social Council has played a defining role in public policy making in Ireland through its deliberative processes. In its early years, NESC was one of the few bodies undertaking strategic, long-term, analysis of Ireland’s position and problems.
In the mid-1970s NESC published reports on social policy, income distribution and housing, as well as publications on public expenditure and tax revenue.
The crisis of the 1980s led the Council to formulate a strategy in 1986 for Ireland to escape from a vicious circle of stagnation, rising taxes, and high debt. This report, A Strategy for Development, formed the basis upon which Government and the social partners negotiated the Programme for National Recovery, the first of seven social partnership agreements. The Council also published work on a range of areas including Ireland’s prospects in the European Community, housing, education, industrial policy, the labour market and health services.
During the 1990s NESC looked at how Ireland was positioned in economy and society, and what the future environment was likely to hold. It advised on the direction Ireland needed to take in order to position itself well into the 21st century. It produced reports on the integration and enlargement of the European Union, CAP reform, emigration, education and training policies.
In the mid-2000s NESC in its work on the Developmental Welfare State argued for a combination of services, income support and innovative measures to achieve better social protection and participation for children, people of working age, older people, and those with disabilities. The Council also produced a major report on Housing and several background papers on issues including approaches to land management.
In late 2000s and early 2010s the Council examined in a number of reports what it called Ireland’s five-parts of the crisis. It published work on the European Union and on quality and standards in a number of human services. During this time NESC has developed its work in a way that integrates sustainable development issues into its analysis of significant national challenges.