Europe-wide evaluation of the way OMC contributes to the realization of eEurope and the Information Society.
The overall objective of this evaluation was to gauge the impact and effectiveness of the OMC approach within the context of eEurope. As such the specific objectives of this evaluation were to (i) explore and map the various modes of current OMC practice and highlight the underpinning understandings of the relevant terms. (Learning through benchmarking and exchange of best practice.); (ii) compare and contrast OMC approaches across different policy areas in member states with particular reference to the eEurope initiative; (iii) develop and test a methodological toolkit for the evaluation of OMC effectiveness in the delivery of the eEurope Action Plan as exemplified through benchmarking and exchange of best practice; (iv) test the toolkit in both current and new member states and the ERA; (v) identify OMC configuration(s) that can optimise its potential as a policy making and strategic tool for eEurope and Information Society policies; and (vi) provide recommendations on how key features of OMC such as benchmarking and exchange of best practice can be optimised to support the Lisbon strategy and sure coherence and coordination in policy and programme development in the area of information society.
ContextOMC was first introduced at the Lisbon Council (2000) to:
- Offer a means of spreading good practice and achieving greater convergence towards the main EU goals; and
- Help member states to progressively develop their own policies. One of the first applications of the method was the eEurope Action Plans (2002 and 2005).
ObjectivesThe objectives of this multi-method study were to:
- Investigate how the OMC was working in the context of eEurope;
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the OMC approach in the delivery of the eEurope goals; and
- Examine how the OMC could be applied and adapted to better support the Lisbon Agenda’s Information Society (IS) goals in the future.
MethodologyThe study was based on an extensive documentary review, an interview survey across the member states and ten in-depth country case studies of the eEurope OMC in operation. The country cases were purposefully sampled based on the characteristics and differences in OMC operation in eEurope, established through the initial scan of all 25 member states. Their aims were to:
- Evaluate the impact and effectiveness of benchmarking and the exchange of good practice in meeting eEurope goals; and
- Examine how OMC could be applied and adapted to better support the Lisbon goals and in particular more coherent policy and programme development across all IS initiatives.
ImpactAs a result of the evaluation a number of structural changes took place, including the dialogue that the study recommended between DG Information Society, responsible for IS policy, and DG Regio, responsible for regional development through the application of Structural Funds.In addition, our recommendations were used by the Commission as best practice guidelines. The Commission also relied on the evaluation team to provide input and expertise in both the study’s Steering Committee, comprising representatives from a number of DGs and external experts and in the DG Information Society’s eEurope and Evaluation Units.
ResultsOverall, the study established that the impact of eEurope OMC on the ground depends on its ability to:
- Concretely influence policy development and policy delivery processes in member states; and
- Persuade individual member states to do things that are both in their own interest and in the interest of the collectivity, in a situation where the actors on the ground are dispersed and semi-autonomous and where there is no one right way to go about things.