Social studies: Political advisory bodies and their functions

In the Netherlands we have a lot of political advisory bodies. These advisory bodies consist of various committees and councils, with members who have a wide range of professional knowledge. Advice from an advisory body is never binding, but usually has a major influence on a bill or policy change. Would you like to know which important advisory bodies the Netherlands has? Or would you like to know what function a particular advisory body has? Then read this article about political advisory bodies and their functions!

What are advisory bodies?

The Dutch government uses a large number of advisory bodies. Each minister can request advice from many different committees and councils. These advisory bodies are all specialized in a particular discipline and look at a bill or policy change with different eyes. Despite the fact that any advice is not binding, an advisory body can exercise a lot of power over a minister and ministry. But which important advisory bodies are there in the Netherlands?

Council of State

The leading and most important advisory body is the Council of State. This advisory board is headed by the King(Queen) of the Netherlands. However, in practice the ,chairman, is almost never present at meetings. The role of chairman is therefore always fulfilled by the vice-chairman. The members of the Council of State are all former politicians or lawyers and are appointed by the government. The Council of State investigates and assesses the following matters:

  • Legislative proposals
  • Proposals for General Administrative Orders
  • Proposals for the approval of treaties


Social Economic Council

The Social Economic Council (SER) has 33 members, which can be divided into three groups of 11 members. The first 11 members come from different employee organizations, the second 11 members come from different employers’ organizations and the remaining members are experts appointed by the government. These experts are also called the Crown members of the SER. The most important task of the SER is to advise the government on the main lines of their socio-economic policy.

Scientific Council for Government Policy

The Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) is a council with a varying number of members. This council always consists of a minimum of five and a maximum of eleven members. All members of the WRR are scientists from different disciplines. These scientists are also appointed by the government as members of the WRR. The most important task of the WRR is to describe future developments in science to the government. Another task is to keep track of long-term government policies regarding science.

Central Planning Bureau

The Central Planning Bureau (CPB) is the most important research institute in the Netherlands. The CPB analyzes the Dutch economy and the government’s economic policy. An adjustment to the policy usually only takes place after a report from the CPB. Despite the fact that the CPB is part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, in practice it functions as an independent advisory body. For example, political parties can have their election manifesto calculated by the Central Planning Bureau.

Policy officials

Policy officials also have an advisory function. After all, the civil servants who assist administrators are also involved in policy preparation. Policy officials have a lot of influence because they have often worked for a certain Ministry for a long time and therefore bring a lot of professional knowledge. They share this expertise with the current Minister. Policy officials are therefore also called the fourth power.