The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) was established in 1973 and advises the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) on strategic policy issues relating to sustainable economic, social and environmental development in Ireland. The members of the Council are appointed by the Taoiseach, for a three year term. These members are representatives of business and employers’ organisations, trade unions, agricultural and farming organisations, community and voluntary organisations, and environmental organisations; as well as heads of Government departments and independent experts. The make-up of the NESC Council means that it plays an important and unique role in bringing different perspectives from civil society together with Government. This helps NESC to analyse the challenges facing Irish society and to develop a shared understanding among its members of how to tackle these challenges.

NESC has a history of producing reports with strategic, long-term analyses of key economic and social development issues affecting Ireland. Its early work focused on the economy, taxation, population and emigration, and agricultural policy. It has also produced reports over the years on employment, housing and education, social policy, Ireland in the EU, public services, and well-being. From 1986 to 2006 NESC regularly produced strategy reports which were the basis for negotiating the social partnership agreements, as well as contributing to development of overall Government policy.

In January 2012, the sustainable development role performed by Comhár, the Sustainable Development Council (SDC), was integrated into the work of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). NESC has since developed its work in a way that integrates sustainable development issues into its analysis of significant national challenges.

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