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Human Resource Development (HRM-627)
VU
Lesson 43
COORDINATION IN GOVERNANCE: AN EXAMPLE OF EU
The open method of coordination or OMC is a relatively new and intergovernmental means of governance
in the European Union, based on the voluntary cooperation of its member states
Overview
The open method rests on soft law mechanisms such as guidelines and indicators, benchmarking and sharing
of best practice. This means that there are no official sanctions for laggards. Rather, the method's effectiveness
relies on a form of peer pressure and naming and shaming, as no member states wants to be seen as the worst
in a given policy area.
Generally, the OMC works in stages. First, the Council of Ministers agrees on (often very broad) policy goals.
Member states then transpose guidelines into national and regional policies. Thirdly, specific benchmarks and
indicators to measure best practice are agreed upon. Finally, results are monitored and evaluated. However, the
OMC differs significantly across the various policy areas to which it has been applied: there may be shorter or
longer reporting periods, guidelines may be set at EU or member state level and enforcement mechanisms may
be harder or softer.
Generally, the OMC is more intergovernmental in nature than the traditional means of policy-making in the
EU, the so-called community method. Because it is a decentralised approach through which agreed policies are
largely implemented by the member states and supervised by the Council of the European Union, the
involvement of the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice is very weak indeed. Formally, at
least, the European Commission has primarily a monitoring role; in practice, however, there is considerable
scope for it to help set the policy agenda and persuade reluctant Member States to implement agreed policies.
Although the OMC was devised as a tool in policy areas which remain the responsibility of national
governments (and where the EU itself has no, or few, legislative powers) it is sometimes seen as a way for the
Commission to "get a foot in the door" of a national policy area.
The OMC was first applied in EU employment policy, as defined in the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, although it
was not called by this name at the time. It was officially named, defined and endorsed at the Lisbon Council for
the realm of social policy. Since then it has been applied in the European employment strategy, social inclusion,
pensions, immigration, education and culture and asylum and its use has also been suggested for health as well
as environmental affairs. The OMC was also frequently debated in the European Convention.
Historically, the OMC can be seen as a reaction to the EU's economic integration in the 1990s. This process
reduced the member states' options in the field of employment policy. But they were also weary of delegating
more powers to the European institutions and thus designed the OMC as an alternative to the existing EU
modes of governance.
In the following, the OMCs in the areas of employment and social protection will be analysed because they are
usually considered the most developed ones. A brief introduction to the "upcoming" OMC in health is also
given. However, bear in mind that the open method seems to become more and more widespread, including
areas such as immigration and asylum which are not discussed here.
Development of the OMC: from EMU to the EES
EMU and in particular the Stability and Growth Pact as well as the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (which
were introduced as an instrument to realise the goals set down in the Lisbon Agenda) can be considered a sort
of "proto-OMC" with comparatively hard sanctioning mechanisms. As a reaction to the economic integration
of Europe, the European Employment strategy (EES) evolved in the 1990s with the rationale of rebalancing
monetary and economic integration. The original EES thus consisted in more or less replicating the EMU
process with mid-term objectives, indicators and pressure for convergence. Legitimised through the
Amsterdam treaty, the EES then became a process in its own right. As mentioned above, its' principles were
generalized and christened "Open Method of Coordination" at the Lisbon Summit (2000). Finally, the third
phase of the EES began with the five year review in 2003 where the EES was repoliticised, due to the growing
dominance of right wing governments in the EU. Nowadays the EES is a political compromise aimed to
exclude both pure neo-liberal and social democratic approaches.
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Human Resource Development (HRM-627)
VU
The OMC in Social Inclusion
The social inclusion OMC, by contrast, was not directly linked to the EMU debate. Social inclusion was for
many years a controversial topic to address at the European level due to the subsidiarity concept. In 1999 the
Commission finally adopted a communication for a concerted strategy on social protection, proposing a Social
Protection Committee which was made official in the Nice Treaty. Said committee was responsible for the
initial standard setting exercise. Next, each member state was asked to benchmark its situation by producing a
two year national action plan (NAP or NAPincl), presenting national-level strategies for improving the
situation. These were made available in June 2001. 18 months later the EU released a joint report on social
inclusion where the member state's approaches were compared and contrasted and recommendations were
given. While the NAPs form a first level of action, the Community Action Programme to combat poverty and
social exclusion, which aims to improve cooperation between the member states, can be considered the second
level of action.
In the social inclusion OMC some funds were made available for NGOs and consequently its' "inclusive"
approach to civil society has been favourably commented upon. However, this is not necessarily the case for
other OMCs. According to FEANTSA (2005), the Pensions OMC is more closed and involves mainly the
Commission and national civil servants.
Comparing the employment and social inclusion OMC
When comparing the EES and social inclusion OMC, Pochet (2005: 43) notes that the first seems to go more
in a direction of centralization, naming and shaming without any broad discussion about the content on the
European level (top-down). The second process goes more towards an experimental dynamic with the
involvement of local and regional actors (bottom-up). However, the author also notes that this is probably an
over-generalization with tensions between centralization and decentralization being present in both forms.
Due to their different nature the impact of those two OMCs can be quite diverse as well. Ferrera and Sacchi
(2004) analyse the impact of the EES and the Social Inclusion OMC in Italy. They conclude that the
autonomous impact of the OMC has been relatively significant in the case of employment and relatively
insignificant in the case of social inclusion. One key difference was the treaty status of the employment OMC
which forced the Italian authorities to comply - this component was lacking for social inclusion. Furthermore,
the issue of unemployment and labour market reform was simply more salient than social inclusion.
Health
As member states increasingly face common concerns in healthcare (such as demographic ageing), the
application of the OMC has been discussed. In March 2004 the European Parliament passed a resolution
calling on the Commission to present a proposal for the use of the OMC in health and long term care. The
April 2004 Communication by the Commission recommended to apply the OMC to the development and
modernization of health care provision and funding. As potential advantages the Commission pointed to:
 greater consistency with existing social protection mechanism
 closer coordination with other political processes such as the EES (in particular regard to the ageing
workforce), As a result the issues of health should better reflect the Lisbon strategy
 involving the many actors in the sectors, particularly the social partners, the health care profession and
patient representatives
Further steps have been taken to start the introduction of the OMC.
Indicators and streamlining
The choice of indicators is of vital consequence for the OMC and critics have argued that, for instance in the
Social Protection OMC, the quality of the indicators is not high enough or oriented too much on economic
criteria and not social ones. Also, for health the comparability of national data has been doubted.
In the social protection field the Commission is preparing to streamline the methods used in the different
OMCs (social inclusion, pensions etc.). In this context, critics fear that the number of indicators will be too
much reduced
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Method_of_Coordination
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT:The Concept and its Dimensions, Targets of Development
  2. FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR:Attitudes, Personality, Emotional Intelligence
  3. PERCEPTION:Attribution Theory, Shortcuts Frequently Used in Judging Others
  4. INTRINSIC MOTIVATION:Why Choose Big Five Framework?, THE OUTCOME OF FIVE FACTOR MODEL
  5. FIVE FACTOR MODEL:The Basis of Intrinsically Motivated Behavior, Intrinsic Motivation and Values
  6. MOTIVATION:EARLY THEORIES OF MOTIVATION, Designing Motivating Jobs
  7. The Motivation Process:HOW TO MOTIVATE A DIVERSE WORKFORCE?,
  8. INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION:PRINCIPLES OF INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION
  9. THE WORLD BEYOND WORDS:DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VERBAL AND NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION, MINDFUL LISTENING
  10. TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS:EGO STATES, Parent Ego State, Child Ego State
  11. TYPES OF TRANSACTIONS:Complementary Transactions, Crossed Transactions, Ulterior Transactions
  12. NEURO-LINGUISTIC-PROGRAMMING
  13. CREATE YOUR OWN BLUEPRINT
  14. LEADERSHIP:ORGANIZATIONAL DEMOCRACY
  15. LEADERSHIP:Environment and Strategic Leadership Link, Concluding Remarks
  16. UNDERSTANDING GROUP BEHAVIOR:Stages of Group Development, Advantages of Group Decision Making
  17. UNDERSTANDING TEAM BEHAVIOR:TYPES OF TEAMS, Characteristics of Effective Teams,
  18. EMOTIONAL FACET:PHYSICAL FACET
  19. HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT & THE ROLE OF GOVERNACE:Rule of Law, Transparency,
  20. HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT:The Concept and Its Dimensions, Targets of Development
  21. HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX (HDI):Methodology,
  22. REPORTS:Criticisms of Freedom House Methodology, GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS
  23. SECTORS OF A SOCIETY: SOME BASIC CONCEPTS:PUBLIC SECTOR, PRIVATE SECTOR
  24. NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOS):Types, Methods, Management, Citizen organization
  25. HEALTH SECTOR:Health Impact of the Lebanon Crisis, Main Challenges,
  26. A STUDY ON QUALITY OF PRIMARY EDUCATION BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE
  27. ADULT EDUCATION:Lifelong learning
  28. THE PRACTICAL PERSPECTIVE OF ADULT EDUCATION:Problems of Adult Literacy, Strategies for Educating Adults for the Future
  29. TECHNICAL & VOCATIONAL EDUCATION:VET Internationally, Technical Schools
  30. ASSESSING THE LINK BETWEEN INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL FORMATION AND PERFORMANCE OF A UNIVERSITY
  31. SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION:Social responsibility, Curriculum content
  32. ENVIRONMENT:Dark Greens and Light Greens, Environmental policy instruments
  33. HDI AND GENDER SENSITIVITY:Gender Empowerment Measure
  34. THE PLIGHT OF INDIAN WOMEN:
  35. ENTREPRENEURSHIP:Characteristics of entrepreneurship, Advantages of Entrepreneurship
  36. A REVISIT OF MODULE I & II
  37. HUMAN DEVELOPMENT & ECONOMIC GROWTH (1975 TO 2003):
  38. PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP:Origins, The Desired Outcomes of PPPs
  39. PRINCIPLES OF PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP (PPP):Situation in Pakistan,
  40. DEVOLUTION REFORMS A NEW SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT:
  41. GOOD GOVERNANCE:Participation, Rule of law, Accountability
  42. MACROECONOMIC PROFILE OF A COUNTRY: EXAMPLE ECONOMY OF PAKISTAN
  43. COORDINATION IN GOVERNANCE: AN EXAMPLE OF EU, The OMC in Social Inclusion
  44. MOBILIZING REGIONAL EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES: THE ASEAN UNIVERSITY NETWORK, A CASE STUDY
  45. GOVERNMENT PRIORITIES AND POLICIES:Role of Government, Socio Cultural Factors in Implementing HRD Programs