The Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC) is a relatively new means of policy-making in the European Union, based on the voluntary co-operation of its Member States. It is applied in many policy areas where the EU has no legislative competence.
The method has been applied to social policy since 2000, and uses a series of jointly-agreed tools - objectives, guidelines, indicators, benchmarks and good practices – to improve policies at national and regional levels. The OMC operates as a complement to legislation, financial instruments (including the European Social Fund), Social Dialogue and co-ordination processes (particularly the Lisbon Strategy) at European level. The OMC in the social sphere places strong emphasis on the involvement of relevant stakeholders, including local and regional actors.
Further information: http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/the_process_en.htm
The way the social OMC is governed is also included in the Objectives in the fight against poverty and social exclusion adopted by the European Council in November 2002. Objective 4 is as follows:
- 4. To mobilise all relevant bodies
- (a) To promote, according to national practice, the participation and self-expression of people suffering exclusion, in particular in regard to their situation and the policies and measures affecting them.
- (b) To mainstream the fight against exclusion into overall policy, in particular:
- by mobilising the public authorities at national, regional and local level, according to their respective areas of competence;
- by developing appropriate coordination procedures and structures;
- by adapting administrative and social services to the needs of people suffering exclusion and ensuring that front-line staff are sensitive to these needs.
- (c) To promote dialogue and partnership between all relevant bodies, public and private, for example:
- by involving the social partners, NGOs and social service providers, according to their respective areas of competence, in the fight against the various forms of exclusion;
- by encouraging the social responsibility and active engagement of all citizens in the fight against social exclusion;
- by fostering the social responsibility of business.
A study published in 2010 provides recommendations, benchmarks, and examples of good practices and tools successfully applied by relevant stakeholders, regarding the quality and permanence of the involvement of stakeholders in the implementation of the OMC. Resources available include:
- 27 country reports on how stakeholders are involved in the OMC in the social sphere;
- A number of interesting practices and case studies of stakeholder involvement in the OMC;
- An analysis of the main characteristics and issues at stake related to the stakeholders’ role in the different process steps of the OMC, highlighting what has improved but also what remains to be done;
- General recommendations and a discussion paper on how to improve the current situation, which includes recommendations on key quality aspects/quality assessment criteria on stakeholder involvement.
Under the Europe 2020 strategy, the OMC is to be reformed into:
- a platform for cooperation, peer-review and exchange of good practice, and into an instrument to foster commitment by public and private players to reduce social exclusion, and take concrete action, including through targeted support from the structural funds, notably the ESF
Source: Europe 2020 , page 18