Studies in EU Reform and Enlargement series
Edited by Udo Diedrichs, Wulf Reiners and Wolfgang Wessels
Chapter 4: The Pensions OMC: Why Did it Emerge and How Has it Evolved?
David Natali INTRODUCTION This chapter aims to shed light on the emergence within the European Union of the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) in the field of pensions. It does so by using the concept of window of opportunity (related to a revised ‘garbage can’ model). While that concept has usually been proposed for the analysis of agenda-setting and policy change (Keeler, 1993; Kingdon, 1995; Zahariadis, 2003), in this chapter it is used for the study of the introduction of new modes of governance1 (NMGs) and to answer two more specific questions. First, why did the Pensions OMC emerge? And, second, how did it evolve? The proposed model seems useful for at least three reasons. First, it allows for a multi-dimensional and multi-level analytical framework. From a descriptive perspective, it provides a wide map of multiple socioeconomic, 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, originating at both national and supranational level, led to a window of opportunity and then to an 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, the EU is ‘heavily nuanced, constantly changing and even kaleidoscopic’ and thus resists simple characterizations and/or a general theory. Consistently, the following framework draws on the interaction of different theories.2 Second, the model helps...
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