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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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PART II: NATIONAL STUDIES

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PART II NATIONAL STUDIES This page intentionally left blank CHAPTER3 Trying to Reform the "Best Pupils in the Class"? The Open Method of Co-ordination in Sweden and Denmark Kerstin JACOBSSON Introduction Both Sweden and Denmark were eager to place employment at the top of the EU agenda and the two countries played an instrumental role in the initiation of the European Employment Strategy (EES) (Johans- son, 1999). The two governments consider the Open Method of Co- ordination (OMC) an apt and appropriate co-operation method in the nationally sensitive areas of welfare policy. Both regard employment and social policy as national competences. Thus, they have somehow to handle the tension between employment and social policy as a matter of national responsibility and the perceived need to develop a joint and co- ordinated European strategy. This chapter investigates and compares the functioning of the OMC employment and social inclusion respectively in Sweden and Denmark. It looks at which national players are involved and how the OMC inter- acts with national policy-making. It also investigates the types of impact that the OMC has had in these countries as well as barriers to further impact. The chapter shows that the EES is not well integrated into the na- tional policy-making and implementation systems in Sweden and Den- mark, but concerns a rather limited group of officials at national minis- tries. In contrast, the OMC in social inclusion has developed in a more participatory direction in the two countries. The chapter argues that the two...

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