The Economic and Social Council (ESC) is “the civil parliament” of Bulgaria. It unites a variety of Bulgarian civil society organisations of similar interests.
The Economic and Social Council is the “bridge” between citizens and the national government. Its mission is to support such “bridging” so as to facilitate the communication between the society and the national government.
The establishment of the Economic and Social Council as a new institution of civil dialogue in Bulgaria marks a new phase of organised civil society development in Bulgaria.
The ESC is a “consultative body expressing the will of civil society organisations regarding the economic and social development”. This is the definition of its status under the Economic and Social Council Act approved by the National Assembly (the Parliament) in 2001.The Council was established as an active body at its first plenary session on 10 December 2003. It started its third four-year mandate in April 2012.
The active operation of the ESC has strengthened its position as a standing institutional form of consultations, dialogue and information to the civil society. The Council expresses and protects civil society interests by communicating agreed statements and proposals submitted by its members to the executive and legislative authorities. In this relation, the ESC adopts opinions, resolutions and analyses and organises public consultations on key economic, social, education, demographic, health or other issues.
One of the commitments Bulgaria took prior to its accession to the European Union was to create a democratic civil society institution of such kind, which the country had successfully implemented.
The Economic and Social Council has become a reality in Bulgaria owing to the political and public consensus on the place, role and significance of an institution of such kind as an independent civil parliament. Its development builds on all the experience, traditions and attainments in the field of social dialogue that has been going on in the country as of the time the democratic changes started. The understanding, confidence and support of all social partners in Bulgaria to such new model of civil dialogue that evolved into a new phase and broader form of the social dialogue was vital for its start and successful progress.
Bulgaria's first step on the harder yet better way to a wider civil dialogue was a move of a new quality. In response to the EU membership requirements, in most of the new Member States the existing national social dialogue structures, such as the National Tripartite Council in Bulgaria, were transformed into economic and social councils. In Bulgaria, however, was built a new institution of a new type.