The Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC) was first introduced at the Lisbon Council (2000) as a ‘means of spreading good practice’ and achieving greater convergence towards the main EU goals and ‘help(ing) Member States to progressively develop their own policies’. One of the first applications of the method was the eEurope Action Plans (2002 and 2005).
OMC reflects a new set of instruments for co-ordinating multi-level governance which is based on consensus building, learning through action and learning from peers. Along with other major national and international actors, the EU has been at the forefront of innovations in policy co-ordination which create new steering possibilities beyond the traditional instruments of legislation and expenditure.
Whereas previous policy instruments have tended to be uniform in type and application, this new family of instruments can be configured in different ways to suit different settings and circumstance, and may include various combinations of:
- Strategy development and agenda setting;
- Action plans;
- Definitional and measurement work (development of indicators);
- Peer pressure;
- Learning and exchange of good practice; and
- Mobilisation of the wider set of stakeholders (including the social partners and civil society).