The Open Method of Coordination was introduced at the Lisbon European Council meeting in 2000, and is described as a new policy instrument composed of four nucleus constituents. First, moving in concert, both the Member States and European establishments set fixed guidelines for the EU. Second, there are quantitative and qualitative indexs and benchmarks. Third, guidelines are transferred into domestic policies and policy-objectives, and eventually, besides included in this new policy instrument are common larning procedures such as benchmarking, monitoring and peer reappraisal are present ( see Eberlein and Kerwer 2004: 123 ) .
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The European Employment Strategy ( EES ) , frequently referred to by some faculty members as “ the female parent of the OMC ” ( Smismans 2004: 2 ) , was established in 1997 merely three old ages before the OMC was born. The EES laid introduced employment issues as a corporate European job and from so on, it has become the basis for the EU function in the coordination of its Member States ‘ employment policies ( Watt 2004: 118 ) . Harmonizing to a textual analysis of the EES, employment policy in the EU is a “ mobilisation of human resources ” ( Zangle 2004: 11 ) and execution of active labor market policies ( ALMPs ) , alternatively of forestalling unemployment. One of the most important constituent and strengths of the OMC and the EES is the possibility it presents for histrions to reciprocally larn from each other ‘s policy ( Goetschy 2004: 7 ) . Indeed, “ societal acquisition is an knowing effort to modify the aims or methods of policy in reaction to old experience and new information. We can believe of policymaking procedure as therefore consisting of three cardinal variables: the cardinal aims that usher policy in a given sphere, the methods or policy instruments used to accomplish those aims and the specific context of these instruments ” .
In the context of the OMC and EES, the construct of common acquisition consists of such instruments as benchmarking, periodic monitoring, peer reappraisal exercisings and rating. These constructs are introduced to promote the designation and transportation of the ‘best patterns ‘ which are so assumed to take to new policy thoughts, institutional agreements, policy execution and formation of corporate penchants. By take parting in this procedure, member provinces are expected to non merely better their national labor market policies but should besides endeavor to meet towards the employment policy recommendation recommended at the EU degree.
Although, the OMC recognizes national diverseness through the development of common acquisition and multi-level administration, nevertheless, the foundation for achieving common convergence is besides present within common aims, benchmarking, and rating and within policy coordination itself. This is precisely what some faculty members have described as an built-in tenseness in the OMC ( see Goetschy 2004 ) . Specifically, there is a contradiction between the accent on the method as a tool giving Member States the freedom to develop at their “ ain gait ” , and the of import demand to voyage the procedure of policy alteration in the way of “ convergence towards EU aims ” ( Radaelli 2004: 14 ) . It is exactly the deduction for the common acquisition procedures in footings of this contradiction that this paper concerns itself with. In the visible radiation of this contradiction, we will try to confirm the premise which reads: the statements between the claims of “ diverseness ” and “ convergence ” epitomized in the OMC and the EES nowadayss both opportunities and restrictions with respects to the procedure of common acquisition for the Member States.
The theoretical deductions of the opportunities and restrictions of Mutual Learning
With the debut of the OMC in to the EU, Mutual acquisition as a construct has attained wholly new intending. From this position it is non merely larning between national authoritiess that counts ( “ horizontal acquisition ” ) , but besides there is turning characteristics of perpendicular coordination at EU administration degree, and horizontal and perpendicular acquisition ‘from below ‘ ( “ bottom-up ” ) .
When observed from the national degrees, the function of the policy larning procedures under the EES, opportunities and restrictions of their execution can be viewed from different theoretical point of views. One may get down at the macro-theoretical degree deducing and clarifying policy transportations. For illustration, new institutionalism argues that way dependences limit larning particularly in the visible radiation of the assortment of institutional models and public assistance governments in Europe ( Lodge 2003: 18 ) .
One may besides get down with the principal-agent and two-level game theories to analyze the complex interaction between member provinces, the civil society and the EU establishments. Buchs ( 2004 ) has applied this attack in his analysis concludes that the function of province in this great game is that of an intermediary between the EU degree and civil society and that larning procedures can be understood by detecting this interaction ( 2004: 4 ) . The impression ofpatriotismcan besides be used to assist depict the reluctance of certain member provinces to take part in the policy acquisition procedures and the transportation of policies. from this position “ national pride, reluctance to reassign sovereignty, and the self-pride of the province are of import, histrions dickering both over benchmarking marks, public presentation measuring, and benchmarking consequences ” ( Zangle, 2004: 10 ) .
However, in this paper the opportunities and restrictions of the common acquisition procedures will be critically analysed within the horizon of the built-in tenseness between the ‘evidence-based policy doing ‘ and ‘constructive agnosticism ‘ attacks. There is no uncertainty that the vision articulated by the interior decorators of the OMC and the EES consist of both the practical, statistical, direct grounds to hasten learning procedures and their national results, qualitative and quantitative indexs to be used in benchmarking and grander end of accomplishing convergence. Conversely, regard for the national diversenesss, acknowledgment of diversenesss, state of affairss, demands and, the involvements of the Member States are besides incorporated in this new manner of administration. Both opportunities and restrictions are rooted in this twofold and sometimes even contradictory nonsubjective and procedure.
‘Evidence-based policy devising ‘
The ‘evidence-based policy doing ‘ attack is located within the rationalist school of idea which assumes that policy determinations are made between another class of action on the footing of what works in a different topographic point, and in a practical manner. Hence, instead than anchoring policy determinations on political orientation, they are grounded on the empirical grounds collected elsewhere ( Sanderson 2002 ) . so “ it seems to be rational common sense to see policy as a purposive class of action in chase of aims built upon careful appraisal of alternate ways of accomplishing such aims and effectual execution of the selected class of action ” ( Sanderson, 2002: 5 ) .
Consequently, this point of position argues that there are two cardinal types of grounds that are required to better effectual authorities action. First and first, grounds is required which confirms the operational capacity of the different authorities bureaucratic machine in the policy are under optimum public presentation. Second, grounds is required which to advance betterment through more efficient methods and schemes. Whereas in the former grounds is fundamentally required in the signifier of information on different constituents and marks of public presentation ( Sanderson 2002: 3 ) . In the later, there is a qualitative difference in that grounds is basically required in the signifier cognition about how good specific policies and patterns work elsewhere, and how the policy intercessions reform societal systems ( ibid. )
The ‘evidence-oriented policy doing ‘ attack contends that there are four major ways grounds can edify the development and execution of policy. First, determinations about what policy actions to follow in a given policy field can be learned by grounds of the likely effectivity of that policy penchants. Second, grounds collected from antecedently implemented policies maps as a foundation for the prospective deliberations of policy penchants and possibilities. Third, grounds besides plays an of import function in placing non on the most of import jobs in that policy field but besides those jobs that should be accorded the highest precedence in policy intercession. And, eventually, improved cognition about policy jobs and possible policy penchants can assist to affect the concerned stakeholders in a healthy argument about how to put aims ( Sanderson 2002: 4 ) . This attack therefore depends on the grounds ( normally quantitative ) that both in theory and pattern determines effectual policy penchants.
This positivist attack submits that opportunism ( in this instance attributable to provinces as entities ) and rational behavior might supply solution to public policy jobs. As a consequence, this attack leads to the hypothesis that what works in one province should besides work in other, since there are monolithic statistical and scientific grounds in the field where policymakers can pull valuable lessons from ( Hill 2005: 51 ) .
The chief drift for looking at old enforced policies and institutional agreements and larning by supervising and rating is because larning is a agency to cut down mistakes ( Radaelli 2004: 6 ) . Learning from the experience of others can be more efficient than larning from one ‘s ain experience, since it minimizes the hazard of failures. Therefore, histrions are able and willing to utilize larning within organisational webs under the OMC, as they believe in the possibility of happening a solution for their several jobs within this web, utilizing it as “ radio detection and ranging ” ( ibid. 7 ) .
In add-on, benchmarking entails the comparative measuring of public presentation of one organisation against other organisations, within a defined mark ( Heritier 2002: 5 ) . From this position, it suggests comparing member provinces against each other within the employment guidelines and indexs. This procedure, so, can be said to be the learning procedure in pattern, since it entails looking for the ‘best patterns ‘ in order to extinguish the chance of public presentation spreads on eventual acceptance of the policy penchant. Benchmarking can be defined as a “ practical tool for bettering public presentation by larning from best patterns and the procedures by which they are achieved ” ( O’Reagain and Keegan in: Schludi 2003 ) . Furthermore, different strand of faculty members define a benchmark in a instead mechanical and rational manner, declaring it to be “ a criterion or point of mention against which things may be compared or assessed ” ( ibid 2003 ) . Hence, from this position, benchmarking denotes the comparative rating of public presentation and the obliteration of predominating public presentation spreads, based on qualitative standards.
Harmonizing to Graham ( 1999: 5. ) , there are “ seven Nemesiss ” to ‘evidence-based policy ‘ viz. ; bureaucratic logic, the bottom line, consensus, political relations, civil service civilization, cynicism and clip. First, bureaucratic logic entails that misreading of the current state of affairs and gathered grounds is a impeding factor to any policy development. From this point of position, bureaucratic logic is phrased as “ things are right because they have ever been done this manner ” ( ibid. ) and there is no ground to alter it, even if the prevalent manner of policy-making is epistemologically flawed. “ The bottom line ” refers to the thought that the effectivity of policies can non be measured by quantitative and qualitative confirmations entirely because in pattern, policy is built on consensus instead than on beyond doubt grounds. Policy in pattern involves an extended procedure of audience carried out to find different involvement and penchants of all concerned histrions, and the bounds of a solution that will fulfill every one of these histrions.
A outstanding restraint in the designation of ‘best pattern ‘ is that it does non basically place the suited scheme by which it can be applied to different institutional scene. Even if granted that policy larning consequences to reform, the precise policy transportation might be unsuccessful. Indeed, Dolowitz and Marsh ( 2000 ) , claim that there are some noteworthy factors that cause policy transportation to diverge from the marks set by policy-makers doing the transportation. For illustration, thefailureof the importing province to retroflex the transferred policy in conformity with the marks set by policy-makers of the exporting province can be as a consequence of uneducated transportation, particularly if there is non equal information about the policy and how it should operates in another institutional scene. Finally, Dolowitz and Marsh talk about unsuitable policy transportation if adequate attending is non paid to the different economic, societal, political and institutional background in the importing member province.
‘Constructive agnosticism ‘
For the ‘constructivist agnosticism ‘ attack, given that cognition of the societal universe is non merely socially constructed and culturally every bit good as historically dependent ; cognition and acquisition, and their functions in policy-making are complex issues. Harmonizing to this point of position, policy acquisition and development is understood as a “ procedure of deliberation which considers beliefs, rules and actions under conditions of multiple frames for the account and rating of the societal universe ( Dryzek, 16 ) .
The rating of the common acquisition procedures can non merely be reduced to a “ proficient exercising ” since like all the other facet of the policy-making ; it is conditioned by different penchants, norms, values, and alone institutional backgrounds. Consequently, the rating of any procedures or experience should be based on a communicative and argumentative procedure ( Sanderson 2003: 338 ) . As Schwandt contends, there is a demand for “ critical intelligence ” which is fundamentally “ the ability to inquiry whether the terminal is deserving accomplishing. It does non name for merely basic cognition of effects, but the willingness and capacity to debate the value of different terminals of a pattern ” ( Schwandt in: Sanderson 2003: 338 ) . Given that the fluctuations in national fortunes are high, it can be reasoned that non merely “ what counts is what works ” , but “ what is appropriate ” is besides of import for each specific national circumstance. In short, the consideration of the rightness of the agencies and terminals of a policy procedure is of extreme importance ( ibid: 332 ) .
Harmonizing to this position, dependance practical grounds to pull direct policy determination can non be absolute. “ It is recognized that cognition comes in different signifiers ” ( Campbell 2002: 89 ) , and as such, it is non merely the experts who should play a function in decision-making but besides non experts, since no cognition is a waste. In short, when policy shapers are on the quest to larn lessons “ their ain state ‘s yesteryear is the best topographic point to get down ” ( Dolowitz and Marsh 1996: 351 ) .
By looking back into the historic yesteryear, ”actors learn non merely what has worked, but can besides larn and cognize what non to reiterate ” . Therefore, cross-national and bottom-up benchmarking has a inclination to uncover the flaws inherent in national policies, circumvent uneffective policies, avoid dearly-won policy bloopers, and challenge those patterns that have seized to be effectual, which in the terminal, increases the legitimacy of policy penchants and policy tools used.
The increasing diffusion of thoughts and information is an obvious chance for national policy-makers. It does non needfully imply statistical and scientific confirmations for policy-making, but it can take to the imitation of utile thoughts and determinations at the national degree. It besides entails the airing of corporate linguisticcommunication, i. e. peculiar look which has specific intending both for the EU development in societal policy and its Member States likewise.
Even thoughacademicresearch on the common policy larning instruments gestate benchmarking, in a instead proficient manner, we argue in this paper that it besides has cognitive and normative values, which can be seen as a chances and possibilities provided by this sort of policy larning to fight for the convergence in end products. “ Benchmarking may help in developing and justifying policy responses that are improbable to be discovered within a member province ‘s prevalent institutional scenes. As a consequence, it may work as an instrument to loosen up the frequently strong way dependence of predominating public assistance province constructions ” ( Heinze et al. in: Schludi 2003: 13 ) .
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Given the high extent of national public assistance traditions diversenesss, benchmarking in societal policy at the EU degree should be able to acknowledge these diversenesss and admit its auxiliary value, i. e. it provides the footing for the exchange of ‘best patterns ‘ and experience without the demand to enforce a top-down solution.
The danger and restriction to the acquisition might besides come from a state of affairs, when engagement is neglected and the nucleus of the OMC is formed merely by politicians and experts, therefore, alternatively of ‘opening-up ‘ the procedure, it becomes even more technocratic. “ Negative lesson-drawing ” is besides of extreme importance. If common acquisition between member provinces becomes excessively concerted to the extent that sufficient attending is no longer paid to negative lessons or policy failures, it may be wise to pretermit of import alternate solutions and take a more independent critical expression at benchmarking. Put otherwise, larning is abetted by mistake inasmuch as by success ( Radaelli 2004: 26 ) . Therefore, the challenge is to happen a right balance between the co-op and competitory acquisition ( ibid. ) , and by so making, authoritiess may utilize their ‘critical intelligence ‘ and withdraw from policy reforms because of what they have learnt ( Schludi 2003: 14 ) .
The EES and common acquisition
Having provided an extended analysis of the theoretical deductions of common acquisition, the paper will now turn to the European Employment Strategy to analyze how the tenseness between the claims of ‘divergence ‘ and ‘convergence ‘ are treated in the OMC and how it influences the Member States cooperation in the EES model.
The chief intent of the EES was to set up a legal footing of Community-level action in the employment policy country ( while taking national diverseness in this policy country into history ) , with the specific aim to increase the efficiency of the European Social Model through occupation creative activity and high employment rate. Besides, the EES was built in such a manner that it should work as a accelerator of the best performing national employment policies.
4. 1 Contradiction between ‘divergence ‘ and ‘convergence ‘ – impact on Member States
With respects to the European Council ‘s decisions the co-ordinated employment policy was built on the following. To get down with, the Commission introduces general designs of the finest employment scheme for Member States to follow. Then, after a deliberation with administrative officials from the Member States employment guidelines are established. Additionally, quantitative and quantitative indexs are established to be used in benchmarking. The guidelines in concurrence with the established indexs are what organize the footing of national action programs ( NAPs ) ( Trubek and Mosher 2002 ) , which are so formulated by single Member States. Each Member State has to supply a elaborate history of how it plans to implement the guidelines. Furthermore, the results of the prevalent national employment policy and ‘best patterns ‘ that might function as possible theoretical accounts for other Member States are included ( Zandstra 2004: 10 ) . Once the NAPs have been submitted, the committee so prepares so called Employment Package which contains the analysis of the NAPs, specific and general Council recommendations to single member provinces. It is the Council who has the concluding say on the concluding version of the Employment Package ( ibid. ) .
Through the usage of equal reappraisal and exchange of good patterns, every member province is straight challenged with the programs and patterns of other member provinces. This so helps to secure the criterions by which to mensurate its ain public presentation ( Trubek and Mosher 2003: 77 ) , at the same clip, it besides exerts force per unit area on each member province to endeavor for better results. But the principle behind the recommendations issued by the Council and their aim are progressively being greeted with double feelings from Member States. Groenendijk ( 2004 ) contends that the principle behind the recommendations is nil more than “ appellative and dishonoring ” , and that the OMC as a soft power policy-making instrument is at times referred to as a “ ordinance by embarrassment ” . Nevertheless, through the recommendations the Member States are besides informed about the built-in defects of their employment policies, and they are in a alone state of affairs to larn new ways of making things or copy new thoughts harmonizing to what they have been recommended. The pick of action still lies with Member States ; nevertheless, the shadow of force per unit area goes on.
In the visible radiation of the foregoing, one of the most hard undertakings facing the EES is to happen the relative balance between the force per unit area to exercise on Member States to accomplish the formulated guidelines and still to esteem their diverse national policy agreements ( de la Porte 2002: 41 ) . The indexs and guidelines are established in such a manner that a periodic comparative rating of member provinces against each other is carried out. The benchmarking procedure so is grounded on the chosen indexs. “ In the model of OMC, it is the agencies to measure the success of the application of the method, and to set force per unit area on take parting Member State to meet towards jointly defined aims ” ( ibid. 42 ) . Therefore, the defined standards with respects to different policy constituents, ends and impacts, can be prompted both from the top-down and from the bottom-up attack. Anyways, there is a significant force per unit area for each Member State to achieve these benchmarks.
Many surveies conducted in this country have identified a figure of jobs with respects to the execution of the EES ( see Goetschy 2002 ; Watt 2004 ) . Among other grounds, the expected impacts of common acquisition might non be attained if a figure of stakeholders who are supposed to take part are non take parting. Furthermore, the extended comparative rating of the Member States ‘ public presentation originates from the top-down attack, since they are carried out by the European committee and the Council. Yet, it has been argued that the provinces will conform merely to those corporate ends and recommendations that are of national importance, irrespective of the sum of force per unit area ( de la Porte 2002: 43 ) . It is dubious whether there will be common acquisition except the mechanisms integrated in the scheme are implemented and implemented in an effectual manner.
This paper adopted two theoretical attacks viz. , ‘evidence-based policy doing ‘ and ‘constructive agnosticism ‘ so as to expose the theoretical deductions sing the chances and restrictions that confronts the EU Member States take parting in the common acquisition. With respects to the execution of the EES, serious attending is paid both to qualitative and quantitative dimensions of common acquisition. This is exemplified in the statements of both the ‘evidence-based policy doing ‘ and its ‘constructive agnosticism ‘ opposite number. From this position, it is the analysis of these theoretical positions that help the geographic expedition of the “ tenseness ” portion of the EES and its impact on the policy acquisition processes. Indeed, the necessity to obtain proficient cognition about best patterns elsewhere has to be combined with the application of a “ critical cognition ” , rating of the rightness, and reading of the qualitative and quantitative confirmations that relates to the specific national institutional contexts. In add-on, this procedure, as visualised in the design of this policy attack, should be both ‘top-down ‘ and ‘bottom-up ‘ . This so put the capacity of different histrions to prosecute in the acquisition processes into serious uncertainties. The deduction is that member provinces, while voluntarily take parting in common acquisition, are supposed to be on changeless hunt for the ‘best patterns ‘ , to copy or emulate these best patterns in order to better their ain national employment policies. However, there is an component of force per unit area nowadays in the signifier of informal countenances and the equal force per unit area with the purpose to endeavor for the convergence towards the EU ends in this policy country. Therefore, the force per unit area, different agreements of common acquisition, and rational, normative or practical elements they involve, can supply both chances and restrictions for Member States, since their national institutional context, degrees of development, and structural aspects are clearly different. This would besides propose that what is seen as a restriction for one Member State, might be a opportunity for another.