The composition of the Council of State is as follows:
President: Her Royal Highness, the Queen; certain members of the royal family (two at the present time); a Vice-President; the members, councillors of State (28 maximum, 25 nowadays), including the President of the section of administrative disputes; councillors in extraordinary service (25 maximum, 16 nowadays).
The Vice-president, the councillors and the councillors in extraordinary service are appointed for life by the Queen upon a proposal of the minister of interior and after consultation of the minister of justice. The Council is consulted for the nomination of the Vice-president; it gives an advisory opinion for the nomination of the ordinary and extraordinary councillors.
The possession of knowledges and experiences in matters of legislation, administration and adjudication is a major criteria for the selection of the members of the Council of State. The variety of the social and political currents of the Dutch society is also taken into account. The councillors are chosen amongst those who have proven their skills in matters of politics, science, justice and administration.
The functions of Vice-president and councillor are incompatible with any public remunerative function, with the quality of elected member of a public body or with the activities of barrister, auditor, tax consultant or business man.
The administration of the Council is directed by the secretary and its staff. The Council is subdivided into three functional departments: legislation, administrative adjudication and two corresponding offices.
The section of administrative adjudication hears all disputes submitted to the Council according to the law, in matters of claims against decisions of public authorities.
The sections decide in last instance, and sometimes in first and last instance.
The section either rejects the demand of annulment either rescind, totally or partially, the impugned decision. In that case, the administration has to take a new decision with regard to the ruling of the Council.
Existence and extent of the advisory authority
- all the bills, wheter they be proposed by the head of state or by the parliament;
- all the drafts of by-laws (e.g. the royal decrees implementing a law);
- international treaties before being sent to the parliament for approbation;
- certain texts, for which the consultation of the Council is requested by a special text;
- drafts of decrees of annulment which will be issued by the Queen according to a law.
The government is not bound by the advisory opinions of the Council. Its advices on the bills and international treaties are transmitted to the members of parliament. The advices on the drafts of decrees are published in the monthly supplement to the Official Bulletin.
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