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Pensions OMC: Why Did It Emerge and How Does It Evolve?

Natali, David. (2007) Pensions OMC: Why Did It Emerge and How Does It Evolve? In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)

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    [From the introduction]. The present paper aims to shed light on the emergence, within the European Union (EU), of the Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC) in the field of pensions. This through the concept of window of opportunity (related to a revised ‘garbage can’ model). While that concept has been usually proposed for the analysis of agenda-setting and policy change (Keeler, 1993; Kingdon, 1995; Zahariadis, 2003), here I use it for the study of the introduction of new modes of governance2 (NMG) and to answer two more specific questions: why did Pensions OMC emerge? And how did it evolve? The proposed model seems useful for at least three reasons. Firstly, it allows for a multidimensional and multi-level analytical framework. From a descriptive perspective, it provides a wide map of multiple socio-economic, institutional and political factors (some of them related to elements of chance and human creativity) which affected the launch of the coordination process in the field. These forces, originated both at national and supranational level, led to a window of opportunity and then to a NMG. From a theoretical point of view, this allows for the combination of some of the traditional theories of European integration (neo-functionalism, new institutionalism and intergovernmentalism). As Peterson and Bomberg (1999: 9) have argued, EU is ‘heavily nuanced, constantly changing and even kaleidoscopic’ and thus resists simple characterisations and/or a general theory. Consistently, the following framework draws on the interaction of different theories.3 Secondly, it helps to specify the mechanisms that translate critical junctures into lasting political legacies. The role of key political entrepreneurs in particular proves important to define problems, envisage solutions, and collecting consensus for a renewed EU intervention. In the following, we do reference to the Director General of the DG Employment and Social Affairs of the Commission, the then Belgian Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (one of the architecture of the OMC), and the Italian administrative elite. Finally, the use of a multi-dimensional and multi-level framework helps us to identify the main peculiarities of Pensions OMC, its emergence and first evolution (before the broader process of ‘streamlining’ with other social protection and inclusion OMC’s). While some of the factors mentioned above were determinants of the broader Lisbon Strategy, some others are typical of pensions policy. Their combination helps explain the peculiar ‘weakness’ of the coordination process of national pension reforms (in terms of its convergence capacity). The first section briefly summarises the key steps for the launch and first implementation of Pensions OMC (in the period 1999-2003) and its peculiar traits. Section two introduces the multi-dimensional and multi-level framework based on the concept of window of opportunity. Sections three to five present the main socio-economic, institutional and political factors that led to the launch of the new method. Their interaction rather than their independence explain the launch of the OMC in the field. Section six concludes.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Open Method of Coordination (OMC).
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > social policy > welfare state
    Other > integration theory (see also researching and writing the EU in this section)
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > institutional development/policy > decision making/policy-making
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2007 (10th), May 17-19, 2007
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2008
    Page Range: p. 18
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:51

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