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European cooperation: the Open Method of Coordination

What is it about?

EU Member States have much to gain in exchanging good practice on the way they design policies and funding schemes. This form of cooperation is referred to as the "Open Method of Coordination" (OMC), and is used in many policy areas.

Under the OMC, experts from ministries of culture and national cultural institutions meet 5 to 6 times over 18 months to exchange good practice and produce policy manuals or toolkits which are widely shared throughout Europe.

Every four years, EU Member States agree the themes on which the OMC should focus in the Council Work Plan for Culture.

Why is it needed?

The Open Method of Coordination is a light but structured way EU Member States use to cooperate at European level in the field of culture. The OMC creates a common understanding of problems and helps to build consensus on solutions and their practical implementation.

Through an exchange of good practice between EU countries, it contributes to improving the design and implementation of policies, without regulatory instruments.

There have been 14 culture OMC groups since 2008, working on important issues such as:

■ Cultural and Creative Industries
■ Intercultural dialogue
■ Access to culture
■ Culture and Education
■ Mobility of Artists and Culture Professionals
■ Mobility of works of art

What is the Commission's role?

The Commission is responsible for organising the OMC, hosting most of its meetings, reimbursing travel expenses, and supporting members of OMC groups with research and studies.

The Commission does not chair OMC meetings or decide who participates; it is the responsibility of national governments to designate the members of each group, who elect their own chair at the first meeting. The group decides if and how to involve additional experts.

The Commission also produces reports on the implementation of the OMC process, including a 2014 report on the relevance and efficiency of the 2011-2014 Work Plan.

What has been achieved so far?

To date, the OMC working groups have produced a variety of good practice manuals, and in 2013 an external evaluation pdf (3.86 Mb) Choose translations of the previous link  concluded that the OMC generally functioned well and was relevant to the policy objectives in the Work Plan for Culture. The evaluators pointed out that the OMC adds value primarily through mutual learning and the exchange of best practices, but recognised that its impact on national policy could be improved.

What are the next steps?

In the Work Plan for Culture 2015-2018, Member States agreed on the following activities under the Open Method of Coordination:

  • 2015: two existing OMC groups to complete their work, on:
    - cultural awareness and expression
    - access to finances for the cultural and creative sectors.
  • 2015-2016 - two OMC groups on: :
    - improving access to culture via digital means (2015-16), including a sub group on promoting reading in the digital environment (2015 only);
    - participatory governance of cultural heritage.
  • 2016-2017 - one OMC group on:
    - identifying innovative measures to promote entrepreneurship and new business models in the cultural and creative sectors
  • 2017-2018 – four OMC groups on:
    - sustainable cultural tourism
    - fostering the contribution of culture to social inclusion
    - skills, training and knowledge transfer: traditional and emerging heritage professions
    - cinema: improving circulation of European films