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The Open Method of Co-ordination in Action

The European Employment and Social Inclusion Strategies – Second Printing


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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INTRODUCTION: The Open Method of Co-ordination in Question 19


INTRODUCTION The Open Method of Co-ordination in Question* Jonathan ZEITLIN I. The Open Method of Co-ordination as an Unidentified Political Object No development in European integration has aroused greater interest or greater controversy in recent years than the Open Method of Co- ordination (OMC). Since its annunciation as a new and broadly applica- ble instrument of EU governance at the extraordinary Lisbon European socio-economic summit in March 2000, drawing on experience with the co-ordination of national economic and especially employment policies over the preceding decade, the OMC has been extended to cover an enormous range of policy fields. Beyond the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPG) introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht (1992), and the European Employment Strategy (EES) inaugurated by the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997), the OMC has become the central tool of EU social policy-making in the new millennium, with formal co-ordination proc- esses launched for social inclusion and pensions in 2001-2003, and further proposals pending from the Commission and the Parliament for the application of this method to health and long-term care. As part of the "Lisbon Strategy" aimed at turning the EU into "the most competi- tive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economy growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion" by 2010, the March 2000 European Council authorised the extension of the OMC to a host of other policy areas, such as re- search/innovation, information society/eEurope, enterprise promotion, For helpful comments on the introduction and concluding chapter to this...

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