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The Open Method of Co-ordination in Action

The European Employment and Social Inclusion Strategies – Second Printing

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Edited By Jonathan Zeitlin and Philippe Pochet

No development in European integration has aroused greater interest or greater controversy in recent years than the Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC), which has become an increasingly broadly applied instrument of EU governance since its invention as part of the «Lisbon Strategy» in 2000. Yet it is widely agreed that the debates surrounding the OMC suffer from a serious empirical deficit. This book, based on an international research network organised by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Observatoire social européen, and the SALTSA Programme, focuses on two highly developed OMC processes, the European Employment and Social Inclusion Strategies, concentrating on their operation and influence at national and subnational levels. It comprises a combination of national and comparative studies, covering eight countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) and four transversal themes (hard and soft law, participation, gender equality, activation). These studies are framed by a historical overview of the OMC’s place in the construction of Social Europe, and by a synthetic conclusion, which assesses the available evidence on the OMC in action, and proposes a reflexive reform strategy for realising its theoretical promise as a new mode of EU governance.

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Foreword 17

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Foreword It is obvious that the European Union today faces great challenges. The most apparent is certainly the recent enlargement and transition from EU 15 to EU 25 - which might become EU 28 in a not too distant future. To integrate the new countries into the Union is a task of great historical significance, which will have far-reaching effects not only upon the European polity and economy but also on world history. Most certainly, enlargement will have economic, social, political and cultural consequences, whose significance and content we can hardly grasp at present. Among the most important issues that we presently need to face is how an enlarged European Union shall be governed in the future. Both from experience and from new theoretical insights from the social sciences we know that good governance and robust institutions are crucial in order to achieve not only political stability but also economic development, growth and welfare. Therefore, it is necessary that a new Constitution for the European Union should be inaugurated as soon as possible which can find legitimacy among European citizens and thus contribute both to political stability and sustainable growth. For these purposes the present compromise launched in Nice 2000 is certainly inadequate in a longer time perspective. Europe is also since Lisbon 2000 committed to a strategy of eco- nomic modernisation whose aim is to create stable growth and full employment. The kernel of this strategy is to develop the European eco- nomy into a knowledge-based economy by the...

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