In its first four years of activity (1958-1961), CNEL succeeds in exercising an active role towards the process of law formation and the political decisions of the Government, which very often questions it on relevant and contingent issues of its action.
In the following years the state institutions consolidated. The phase of great economic growth of the country started and consequently, the role of the social forces strengthened, in particular those representing the dependent job, and they succeeded in conquering spaces and places of direct dialogue with the Government. Consequently, CNEL begins to experience the consequences of this evolution, as demonstrated by the important correspondence between Campilli and Fanfani, then respectively President of CNEL and Prime Minister. On that occasion, the President of CNEL signaled his disagreement with the news of a table of direct discussion between the social players and the government on issues of economic planning and underlined the importance, instead, that this discussion took place in the institutional seat of the Council.
The fact is that the process of consolidating the role of social forces, which continued uninterruptedly at least until the mid-1970s, was accompanied by a simultaneous reduction in the role of CNEL.
In 1976, thanks to an unwritten "pact" between Confindustria, led by Guido Carli, and the leaders of CGIL, CISL, UIL (Lama, Storti and Vanni), supported by the Prime Minister Andreotti, it was decided to relaunch the institutional role of CNEL, also through changes to the institutive law, which was considered inadequate for the full implementation of its role.
CNEL, consequently, during the long Storti presidency (1977-1989) devoted a great part of its activity first to the elaboration of a self-reform project and then to following the long approval procedure by the Parliament of what will be the 936 Law.
The National Council for Economics and Labor has been the interpreter, for over thirty years of activity, of the great changes in the agricultural economy (from the abolition of sharecropping, to the agricultural agreements, to the affirmation of the direct ownership of the farmer, to the definition of the common agricultural policy, to the transformation of the sector into agro-industrial), in keeping with the legacy of the International Institute founded by Davide Lubin.
It has been an authoritative point of reference on the great issues related to emigration. It has carried out in-depth and regular analysis on the issues of the integration of Europe (with the periodic Europe Reports). It has provided ideas for important and innovative reflection on the issues of school, orientation, training and the labor market. It has carried out a thorough preliminary analysis of the health reform, and it has collaborated directly in the implementation of the reform law, also monitoring its effects.