New law on the Third Social Sector (TSS) of the Basque Country

The law on the Third Social Sector is the first autonomous law in Spain on the TSS. It is structured in four chapters: a) general provisions (definition of the TSS); b) civil dialogue and instruments or spaces for dialogue between the TSS, the public sector and other actors; c) cooperation and collaboration between the public sector and the TSS; d) promotion of TSS by the public sector.

One of its main contributions is the legal definition of the TSS considering two characteristics: being a social initiative organization (article 3) and a social intervention organization (article 4), including in the social intervention field: social services, employment services and areas of interaction between social and employment, health, educative or any other services which aim is to promote social inclusion, as well as international development cooperation. This chapter also includes principles related to practices of the TSS and the public sector.

Very important is the definition of civil dialogue as a right of  TSS organizations to participate in public policy at all stages, including in implementation, and interaction with both the legislative and the executive level (chapter 2). The law proposes round tables or “tables for civil dialogue” as instruments of executives and TSS networks to promote dialogue and concrete cooperation, beyond the merely consultative initiatives.

In its third chapter, the law identifies and organizes the different levels in which the TSS and executives collaborate and cooperate. Consistent with the principle of civil dialogue it aims to

  1. Preserve and strengthen the historical and current contribution of organizations to the configuration, consolidation and development of systems and areas of public responsibility in the field of social intervention.
  1. Organize the provision of social services of general interest accommodating cooperation between TSS organizations and the public sector, using public procurement as well as other  And, with this aim, consider some instruments regardless of public procurement other instrumets (“concierto social”, “convenios”, “acuerdos marco de colaboración”).

On the other hand, the law reinforces the obligations of organizations considering the greater recognition of their contribution and the impulse of their social role.

Finally, the fourth chapter focuses on the promotion of the TSS by the public sector and other agents, the recognition of TSS and its social contribution, and the impulse of the collaboration between TSS organizations and enterprises in social intervention activities of general interest regardless the provision of services of public responsibility.

It also calls for practices to evaluate the impact of the actions of other sectors as a tool to reinforce synergies between social sectors, and the constitution of a Basque Observatory of the Social Third Sector.