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Economic and Social Council

Tripartite social dialogue in Croatia is institutionalized through economic and social councils which are established primarily at the national and county level, and a few have been established at the level of a city.
The Economic and Social Council of the Republic of Croatia (ESC, Cro. Gospodarsko-socijalno vijeće/GSV) has been established with a view of identifying and realizing concerted activities aimed at protection and promotion of economic and social rights, i.e. interests of workers and employers, concerted economic, social and development policy, promotion of conclusion and application of collective agreements and their adjustment with the measures of the economic, social and development policy. The ESC activity is based on the idea of tripartite cooperation among the Croatian Government, trade unions and employers’ associations, on solving economic and social issues and problems.

Economic and Social Council is composed of representatives of the Government, employers’ associations of a higher level (Croatian Employers’ Association) and trade union associations of a higher level (five trade union confederations), for which it has been determined through a relevant law or other act that they meet the prescribed conditions on the manner of determining representativeness for participation in tripartite bodies at the national level. The Government and the social partners have an equal number of representatives, and each representative has a substitute. The ESC has a President and two Vice-Presidents who are appointed by members of the Council to a period of one year, with the principle of rotation among the representatives of Government, trade unions and employers in the Council.

A short historical overview

The first Economic and Social Council in Croatia was established on 21 January 1994. The possibility of the establishment of the Economic and Social Council was set by the labour Code – for the first time in 1996, but also in the Labour Code of 2010. However, the continuity of the work of the Economic and Social Council has started only since the signing of the Agreement on the Establishment of the Economic and Social Council in 2000 between the social partners (five trade union confederations and the Croatian Employers’ Association) and the Government of the Republic of Croatia. In 2001 the Annex to the Agreement was signed, which set the possibility of the establishment of economic and social councils at the lower levels.

The continuity lasted until 2010 when at the end of May trade union confederations left the ESC after the Government, of its own initiative, without consultations with social partners, sent to parliamentary procedure amendments to the Labour Code (Article 262) with a view of limiting the extended application of the legal rules contained in collective agreements. In the ten months that followed, due to trade union action and gathered signatures of support to call a referendum on maintaining the said provision of the Labour Code, the Government withdrew draft amendments to the law from the procedure. By the end of 2010, social partners and the Government started designing a new Agreement on the establishment of the Economic and Social Council and other supporting documents which were adopted and signed in March 2011.
After parliamentary elections (December 2011) new Government insists on signing the new Agreement on the establishment of the Economic and Social Council which is almost identical to the former one (apart from the changes relating to the former Office for Social Partnership of the Republic of Croatia, which the new structure of the administration transformed to the Autonomous Service for Social Partnership within the Ministry of Labour and Pension System), and was signed on 3 February 2012.
The Economic and Social Council adopts its Rules of procedure and the annual Working Programme, which in greater detail determine the manner and content of work of the Economic and Social Council and its working bodies.

Committees of the Economic and Social Council

Committees of the Economic and Social Council are established as permanent tripartite expert bodies of the Croatian Government and social partners which take part in the formulation of public policies in the areas for which they have been established, they monitor the implementation of public policies and the application of regulations, and give proposals for their improvement. The Committees concert various interest issues with a view of achieving social consensus as a guarantee of respect of adopted regulations, as well as of general social progress.
The ESC Committees discuss and adopt opinions on public policies drafts (coordination of economic, social and development policy) and regulations submitted to them in line with the ESC Working Programme, and of their own initiative.

There are five committees within the Economic and Social Council:
1.      Committee for wage policy, tax system and living standard;
2.      Committee for social policy;
3.      Committee for employment, education and harmonization with labour market;
4.      Committee for legislation, collective bargaining and protection of rights;
5.      Committee for sustainable development, promotion of economy, energy and climate change.