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Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for social protection and social inclusion

The Open Method of Coordination (OMC) in the field of social protection and social inclusion is an essential instrument in the development of the European social model. This Communication defines the areas in which its objectives, methods and visibility can be reinforced. This reform should make it possible to consolidate the OMC and to exploit its potential more fully, in order to increase social cohesion and solidarity in the European Union (EU).

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 2 July 2008 – ‘A renewed commitment to social Europe: Reinforcing the Open Method of Coordination for Social Protection and Social Inclusion’ [COM(2008) 418 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The Open Method of Coordination (OMC) is used by Member States to support the definition, implementation and evaluation of their social policies and to develop their mutual cooperation. A tool of governance based on common objectives and indicators, the method supplements the legislative and financial instruments of social policy. It is part of the implementation of the process of coordination of social policies, particularly in the context of the renewed Lisbon Strategy.

The single social OMC established in 2005 applies to the fields of:

  • the eradication of poverty and social exclusion;
  • guaranteeing adequate and sustainable pension systems;
  • providing accessible, high-quality and sustainable health care and long-term care.

The OMC process is structured as three-year cycles, leading to national reports which are synthesised by the Commission and the Council in a joint report. The proper conduct of the process is reviewed periodically by the Social Protection Committee in partnership with representatives of civil society and the social partners.

REINFORCEMENT OF THE METHOD

The potential of the OMC can be exploited more fully in order to achieve the common objectives laid down in the field of social inclusion and social protection. The reinforcement of the method aims at consolidating the existing practices and developing new guidelines.

Political commitment and visibility

The OMC should progressively adopt the methodology of the renewed Lisbon Strategy, particularly for the adoption of the joint political objectives, and in interaction with the Commission’s recommendations in social matters.

Similarly, Member States should set quantitative targets in order to focus better on certain sectors of social policy (particularly child poverty, in-work poverty and poverty of older people). These quantified targets will be based on social indicators, which may be differentiated by country or group of countries. By using the Lisbon methodology, the OMC will be better able to evaluate the results of the reforms and to make them more visible.

Interaction with other Community policies

In accordance with the objectives of the Renewed Social Agenda, all European policies should have a social impact, assessed by the Commission. In this perspective, the OMC’s horizontal coordination role should be reinforced. Similarly, the coordination between the Social Protection Committee and the other high-level committees involved in the development of European social and economic policies should be improved.

Analytical tools

The development of social policies should be more broadly based on scientific data and on indicators common to Member States; their use will make it possible to improve the achievement of the common objectives laid down under the OMC. The Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS) will make it possible to develop the collection and analysis of statistical data and the defining of indicators in relation to the topics covered by the OMC.

Ownership by all relevant actors

The OMC’s peer review stage should promote mutual learning and knowledge transfer. The PROGRESS programme can serve as a tool for the transfer of expertise and experience in the context of Community projects or training connected with the process of the Social OMC.

The increased participation of all stakeholders, throughout the cycle, and in particular territorial authorities and civil society, is essential to fully achieve the targets set by the OMC.

Background

The OMC was launched at the Lisbon Council in March 2000 in order to identify and promote the most effective social policies. The period of 2003-2006 was devoted to preparing for the streamlining of the process. In 2008 the Commission proposed a reinforcement of the single Social OMC in accordance with the objectives of the Renewed Social Agenda and the Council's conclusions of March 2008 (pdf ) for improved integration of economic, social and employment policies.

The Social Agenda and the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs will be revised in 2010.

Last updated: 17.02.2009

See also

Additional information is available on the website of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities.

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