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European Commission > Investing in European Research > Open method of coordination

Open method of coordination

Member States have much to learn from sharing their experience of national policies in areas of common interest. This can help them to improve the design and implementation of their own policies, to develop coordinated or joint initiatives on issues of transnational interest, and to identify areas where Community initiatives could reinforce national actions.

The “Open Method of Coordination” (OMC) was introduced by the European Council of Lisbon in March 2000. It was a method designed to help Member States progress jointly in the reforms they needed to undertake in order to reach the Lisbon goals. The method included the following elements:

  • Fixing guidelines and timetables for achieving short, medium and long-term goals
  • Establishing quantitative and qualitative indicators and benchmarks, tailored to the needs of Member States and sectors involved, as a means of comparing best practices
  • Translating European guidelines into national and regional policies, by setting specific measures and targets
  • Periodic monitoring of the progress achieved in order to put in place mutual learning processes between Member States

Initially the OMC was only applied to Employment and Economic policy. When the European Council set the 3% of GDP objective for R&D investment, the Commission suggested that OMC should be applied for this objective as well. The Spring European Council of March 2003 thus agreed to apply the OMC for policies related to investment in research (and to human resources and mobility of researchers as well).

Since October 2005, CREST decided to meet once or twice a year at the level of Directors General to review and facilitate the progress of policy coordination.

The process is expected to produce the following outcomes:

  • Enhanced mutual learning and peer review
  • Identification of good practices and of their conditions for transferability
  • Development of joint policy initiatives among several Member States and regions
  • Identification of areas where Community initiatives could reinforce actions at Member State level.

First OMC cycle (2003-2004)

CREST created five Expert Groups to address actions in the Commission’s 3% Action Plan where OMC was particularly relevant:

  • Public research spending and policy mixes
  • Public research base and its links to industry
  • Fiscal measures and research
  • Intellectual property and research
  • SMEs and research

Issues related to the mobility and careers of researchers were dealt by the Steering Group on Human Resources and Mobility.

Each Expert Group was asked to identify good practices and suggest policy recommendations to Member States. Each Expert Group presented to CREST a report with its findings.

1. Public research base and its links to industry English[ - 134Kb]
2. SMEs and research English[ - 476Kb]
3. Fiscal measures for research English[ - 258Kb]
4. IPR and research English[ - 874Kb]
5. Public research spending and policy mixes English[ - 323Kb]

On the basis of the group reports, CREST issued an overall report English[ - 397 Kb], which contains 30 policy recommendations and orientations for the second cycle OMC. The report showed that OMC helped Member States to develop a common understanding of national policies that need to be mobilized to improve investment in research and to identify issues of transnational interest.

Second OMC cycle (2005-2006)

Following the positive results of the first OMC cycle, CREST launched a second cycle in December 2004, built on the following principles: identification of a limited number of priority topics, leadership by countries, work modules (designed for each topic) and the use of peer review when appropriate.

CREST decided to concentrate on more focused topics in each of the areas of the first cycle. It established an Expert Group for each of these topics and each expert group prepared a report.

In September 2006, CREST published its second overall report English[ - 1216 Kb] on the Application of the Open Method of Coordination. It contains a summary of the work and the outcomes of each of the five Expert Groups.

The Commission supported the OMC process by providing expertise and relevant analytical materials.

Study "Examining the design of national research programmes" English[ - 792 Kb]
Good Practice Guide English[ - 228 Kb]

The Commission organised a conference on “Improving research policies in Europe through the Open Method of Coordination” under the auspices and in collaboration with the Austrian Presidency. The conference took place in Brussels on 18 May 2006. (Programme OMC) English[ - 591 Kb]

You can find more information on

Third OMC cycle (2006-2007)

For the OMC 3% third cycle four Expert Groups were established

  • Framework Programme and the Structural Funds
  • Internationalisation of R&D
  • Policy mixes and
  • R&D in services.

CREST adopted the Guidelines English[ - 448 Kb] on "Coordinating the Framework Programme and the Structural Funds to support R&D" at its meeting in Essen in May 2007.

For more information on the discussion with stakeholders please see
The Competitiveness Council adopted Council Conclusions English[ - 84 Kb] on the CREST Guidelines in June 2007.

The final report English[ - 1.18 Mb] on internationalisation of R&D was adopted by CREST at the 2007 December meeting in Brussels. One of the objectives was to take stock of the strategies and activities of EU Member and Associated States with regards to the internationalisation of R&D. Based on the report CREST adopted conclusions English[ - 1248 Kb] on how to face the challenge of globalisation and how to approach to a proactive international policy in this regard.

CREST report on the Internationalisation of R&D English[ - 2.49 Mb]

The final Report on R&D in Services English[ - 1.00 Mb] - R&D in Services - 17 Business Case Studies English[ - 640 Kb].

In the third cycle, the main objective of the Policy Mix Group was to conduct a peer review process capable of acting as an instrument of mutual learning. The process aimed at helping Member States to better understand the policy mixes needed to raise R&D intensity. To the previous three countries (ES, SE, RO), six (BE, EE, FR, LT, NL, UK) were reviewed in this cycle.
Belgian report English[ - 579 Kb]

Estonian report English[ - 401 Kb]

French report English[ - 523 Kb]

Lithuanian report English[ - 435 Kb]

Dutch report English[ - 291 Kb]

UK report English[ - 1092 Kb]

The reviews generated a series of generic lessons and recommendations of relevance to R&D and innovation policymakers which were adopted by CREST together with a Synthesis Report English[ - 509 Kb] at the December meeting in Brussels.
The report on services is in the process of being finalised.

CREST expert group report 2007 - 3rd report (3rd cycle of the Open Method of Coordination in favour of the 3% objective) On the design and implementation of national policy mixes English[ - 464 Kb]

Fourth OMC cycle (2007-2008)

The fourth cycle of the OMC, launched in December 2007, focused on:

Since 2003, the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) has been used as one of the principal tools to achieve progress towards the objective of increasing investment in research to approach 3% of GDP. In 2008, the "Expert Group for the follow-up of the research aspects of the revised Lisbon strategy (LEG)", created in 2006 by the European Commission (DG RTD), carried out an assessment of the impact generated by the OMC in the field of reserach policy at the national level. The results can be found here English[ - 851 Kb]


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