European Agenda for Culture - The Open Method of Coordination
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The Open Method of Coordination
The Open Method of Coordination (OMC) is becoming increasingly important as a new mode of governance in the European Union. It is used in policy areas, where the EU has no or few legislative competences, but where coordination between Member States is nevertheless seen as essential.
The Open Method rests on soft law mechanisms such as guidelines and indicators, benchmarking and sharing of best practice. The method’s effectiveness relies on peer pressure (‘naming and shaming’).
The OMC generally works in stages.
The OMC is intergovernmental in nature in opposition to the so-called community method. Consequently the involvement of the European Parliament and of the European Court of Justice in the OMC processes is very weak.
- 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, depending on the policy area, shorter or longer reporting periods are set and enforcement mechanisms may be harder or softer
The OMC generally involves the following elements (even if OMC processes vary considerably across policy areas):
Pros and Cons: Application in both Educational and Social policy areas has shown that the OMC can be effective in raising awareness of the need for action, and can mobilise national politicians. In a policy area with no legislative opportunities, such as in Culture—there are few alternatives to the OMC. The key weakness of the OMC is in the non-binding nature of the process, with no penalties for those countries that do not progress on an agreed path. There is also no agreed protocol for the transparency or participation of the process, making it possibly difficult and time-consuming for NGOs to follow and make a contribution.
- Fixing of guidelines with specific timetables in the short, medium and long terms
- Establishment of quantitative and qualitative indicators and benchmarks tailored to the needs of the different Member States
- The translation of these European guidelines into national and regional policies
- A periodic monitoring, evaluation and peer review organized as mutual learning processes
Following the adoption by the Council of Ministers of the European Agenda for Culture, the thematic intergovernmental experts groups of the OMC were set up and some met for the first time end of March 2008.
At the Education, Youth and Culture Council of the 21st and 22nd of May 2008, Culture Ministers adopted a detailed work plan 2008-2010
which gives an overview of the different working groups and of their objectives. Following the Council work plan, OMC working groups will focus on the following topics:
1. the mobility of artists and other professionals
2. the mobility of collections
3. stronger synergies between culture and education
4. EUROSTAT statistical working group on culture
5. cultural and creative industries