EU Open Method of Coordination

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In 2000 the European Council of Heads of State and Government of the then 15 Member States pledged in Lisbon to make a decisive impact on poverty by 2010. This is to be achieved in the context of the overall strategic goal for that 10-year period of making the European Union
"the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion”.

Open Method of Coordination – overall aims

The Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC) has been developed as a process to support and facilitate Member States in meeting the goal on poverty eradication and linked goals in employment and other social areas, such as pensions, health care and making work pay. The process recognises what has come to be termed the inter-linked and inter-dependent policy triangle of economic, employment and social policies. Economic development is, of course, essential to make progress in the employment and social spheres. However, it is often not sufficiently recognised that economic development is also dependent on both employment and social development.
It is no longer only a case of creating jobs through economic development, but also of ensuring that workers have the necessary education, training, skills and confidence to attract jobs in the dynamic, knowledge based economy required to maintain competitiveness. It is acknowledged that poverty is not only a major source of human suffering, but it also retards economic competitiveness both now and, in the case of child poverty, into the future. It can prevent those affected and their families from achieving their full human potential and from contributing positively to social and economic development. It can also serve to retard the achievement of greater social cohesion, which is a key element for both social and economic development.
Achieving the employment and social goals of the Lisbon Strategy, while at the same time striving to be the most dynamic and knowledge-based competitive economy in the world is a major challenge. Member States also share common challenges to a greater or lesser degree in the social area which include:
Ageing of the population;
Changing employment patterns, including unemployment, especially long-term unemployment;
Increasing cost of healthcare;
Increasing family diversity and breakdown;
Poverty and social exclusion.
They also share a common goal of maintaining and enhancing the European social model, which involves a major role for the state, in a spirit of solidarity, in providing social protection and promoting greater social cohesion.

The Process

In light of these realities it is accepted that meeting the social goals will be greatly assisted by a co-ordinated approach. This process facilitates a pooling of knowledge, experience, and best practices from the various Member States in their diversity of traditions, political philosophies, levels of economic development, and degrees of State, private sector and family involvement in combating poverty and achieving other positive social outcomes. However, it is also an open process which leaves Member States free to choose the mix of policies and priorities which they consider is best suited to meet the agreed set of common objectives. There is no blueprint under open coordination to which Member States must adhere, but through participation in the process they can learn in detail how other Member States are meeting the common challenges, and have their approaches evaluated by the Commission and other Member States.

EU New Common Objectives

In March 2006, the European Council adopted a new framework for the social protection and social inclusion process. There is a new set of common objectives: Three overarching objectives and objectives for each of the three policy areas of social inclusion, pensions and health and long-term care.
The communication “Working together, working better: proposals for a new framework for the open co-ordination of social protection and inclusion policies” sets forward detailed proposals for the streamlining of the Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC) in the field of social protection and inclusion. The existing OMC’s in the fields of social inclusion and pensions, and the current process of co-operation in the field of health and long-term care, will be brought together under common objectives – in continuity with the Nice and Laeken objectives - and simplified reporting procedures.

The overarching objectives of the OMC for social protection and social inclusion
are to promote:

(a) social cohesion, equality between men and women and equal opportunities for all through adequate, accessible, financially sustainable, adaptable and efficient social protection systems and social inclusion policies;

(b) effective and mutual interaction between the Lisbon objectives of greater economic growth, more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, and with the EU's Sustainable Development Strategy;

(c) good governance, transparency and the involvement of stakeholders in the design, implementation and monitoring of policy.

The following objectives apply to the different strands of work:

A decisive impact on the eradication of poverty and social exclusion by ensuring:

(d) access for all to the resources, rights and services needed for participation in society, preventing and addressing exclusion, and fighting all forms of discrimination leading to exclusion;

(e) the active social inclusion of all, both by promoting participation in the labour market and by fighting poverty and exclusion;

(f) that social inclusion policies are well-coordinated and involve all levels of government and relevant actors, including people experiencing poverty, that they are efficient and effective and mainstreamed into all relevant public policies, including economic, budgetary, education and training policies and structural fund (notably ESF) programmes.

Adequate and sustainable pensions by ensuring:

(g) adequate retirement incomes for all and access to pensions which allow people to maintain, to a reasonable degree, their living standard after retirement, in the spirit of solidarity and fairness between and within generations;
(h) the financial sustainability of public and private pension schemes, bearing in mind pressures on public finances and the ageing of populations, and in the context of the three-pronged strategy for tackling the budgetary implications of ageing, notably by: supporting longer working lives and active ageing; by balancing contributions and benefits in an appropriate and socially fair manner; and by promoting the affordability and the security of funded and private schemes;

(i) that pension systems are transparent, well adapted to the needs and aspirations of women and men and the requirements of modern societies, demographic ageing and structural change; that people receive the information they need to plan their retirement and that reforms are conducted on the basis of the broadest possible consensus.

Accessible, high-quality and sustainable healthcare and long-term care by ensuring:

(j) access for all to adequate health and long-term care and that the need for care does not lead to poverty and financial dependency; and that inequities in access to care and in health outcomes are addressed;

(k) quality in health and long-term care and by adapting care, including developing preventive care, to the changing needs and preferences of society and individuals, notably by developing quality standards reflecting best international practice and by strengthening the responsibility of health professionals and of patients and care recipients;

(l) that adequate and high quality health and long-term care remains affordable and financially sustainable by promoting a rational use of resources, notably through appropriate incentives for users and providers, good governance and coordination between care systems and public and private institutions. Long-term sustainability and quality require the promotion of healthy and active life styles and good human resources for the care sector.

Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity - PROGRESS

Member State co-operation to combat poverty and social exclusion is supported through the new PROGRESS Programme 2007-2013. The overall aim of PROGRESS is to financially support the implementation of the objectives of the European Union in employment, social affairs and equal opportunities, as set out in the Social Agenda. It will thereby also contribute to the achievement of the EU 'Lisbon' Growth and Jobs Strategy. More specifically, PROGRESS will support:

(1) the implementation of the European Employment Strategy (section 1);

(2) the implementation of the open method of coordination in the field of social protection and inclusion (section 2);

(3) the improvement of the working environment and conditions including health and safety at work and reconciling work and family life (section 3);

(4) the effective implementation of the principle of non-discrimination and promotion of its mainstreaming in all EU policies (section 4);

(5) the effective implementation of the principle of gender equality and promotion of its mainstreaming in all EU policies (section 5).
Section 2 of the Programme shall support the implementation of the open method of coordination (OMC) in the field of social protection and inclusion by:

a) improving the understanding of social exclusion and poverty issues, social protection and inclusion policies, in particular through analysis and studies and the development of statistics and common indicators, within the framework of the OMC in the field of social protection and inclusion;
b) monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the OMC in the field of social protection and inclusion and its impact at national and Community level as well as analysing the interaction between this OMC and other policy areas;
c) organising exchanges on policies, good practice and innovative approaches and promoting mutual learning in the context of the social protection and inclusion strategy;
d) ) raising awareness, disseminating information and promoting the debate about the key challenges and policy issues raised in the context of the Community coordination process in the field of social protection and inclusion, including among the social partners, regional and local actors, NGOs and other stakeholders;
e) developing the capacity of key European level networks to support and further develop Community policy goals and strategies on social protection and inclusion.
Full details regarding the programme can be found on the website of the European Commission at
Last modified:21/01/2013

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