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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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PART III COMPARATIVE ASSESSMENTS This page intentionally left blank CHAPTER 10 Participation in the Open Method of Co-ordination The Cases of Employment and Social Inclusion Caroline DE LA PORTE & Philippe POCHET Introduction 1 The Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC) has generally been pre- sented as a new form of governance, which differs from the traditional Community Method along various dimensions, including participation, our concern here2• Broad participation in the OMC is emphasised as a positive and desirable feature in the political rhetoric, as well as in the academic literature that has flourished since Lisbon (see the University of Wisconsin-Madison website In the docu- ment where the features of the OMC are defined as well as the Conclu- sions of the Lisbon European Council, there is an explicit reference to the need to include all concerned actors, from civil society to govern- mental actors, at different levels, from local to European, in a multi- level logic (Council of the European Union, 2000; European Council, 2000a: 10). This is confirmed by various academic and political agents supporting the OMC (Telo, 2002; Rodrigues, 2002). Participation is part of a broader governance agenda. Radaelli (2003: 45) underlines that participation "[ ... ] is one dimension of the whole issue of accountabil- ity, democratisation and legitimacy of the new mode of governance". In analysing the participation process, we consider decision-making in the OMC basically similar to the other processes at EU level. It is above all a process based on political bargaining, in which (relevant) We...

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