Coordinating policies for a "Europe of knowledge" - Emerging practices of the "Open Method of Coordination" in education and research
This paper presents the emerging practices of the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) in research and education policy at the EU-level and discusses the implications for the EU's involvement in these sectors as well as indicative lessons about the OMC as a mode of governance.
The European Union’s Open Method of Coordination (OMC) is a method that in principle assumes that coordination of policies can be achieved without the use of “hard law”. This paper addresses the question what the OMC represents as an instrument for European integration in the context of research and education as policy sectors. Some essential characteristics of the method as principle set it apart from traditional methods of European integration and inter-governmental cooperation. Yet the concept of the OMC is malleable and ambiguous. It is seemingly able to serve diverse interests with respect to speed and nature of European integration and it has been presented as a solution to a long menu of problems. The OMC as practice in the research and education sectors shows that under the overall conceptual heading OMC, processes evolve in ways that reflect the existing web of procedures, organisational structures and approaches within these sectors. The OMC has generated activities and gained procedural expressions in both policy sectors that are not unfolding in a uniform manner. What the OMC “is” in these two sectors is still in the making and what the OMC entails is under construction and reconstruction. It is a method in the process of learning its place in the political order of the EU, of the member states and within the sector-specific contexts.