The OMC Processes in the Health Care Field: What Does Coordination Really Mean?

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. General challenges for legal analysis of the Open Method of Coordination. – II.1. The OMC and the specificities of EU legal system. – II.2. A trend toward fewer OMC references.– III. The evolution of OMC in the European legal system: From light to shadow. – III.1. Recognition of a legal basis for the OMC in the field of health care. – III.2. Dilution of the OMC in the context of deepening European economic governance. – IV. The revival of the OMC in health care. – IV.1. Endorsement of common indicators. – IV.2. Incorporation of OMC features within secondary law. – IV.3. The OMC’s rationale within partnership programs. – V. Conclusion.

Abstract: More than fifteen years after the introduction of the Open Method of Coordination (OMC), it is necessary to assess the practical implementation of this tool. It is a subject of major interest that has inspired numerous studies in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy, but the attention focused on the OMC has diminished during the past few years, particularly with the deepening of the economic governance of the EU. This trend needs to be addressed in order to understand the actual meaning of the OMC and its relationship to the main features of EU law. The policy field of public health is an appropriate approach for a retrospective assessment of the OMC. Originally conceived as a single method, designed to promote flexible convergence on general objectives concerning the sustainability and quality of care, policy coordination in the health care field has gradually become more complex. It has now become more appropriate to consider several processes of coordination, each one with its own rationale, rather than a single method which can be qualified as an “OMC”. This Article discusses this evolution.

Keywords: open method of coordination – health policies – new modes of governance – policy coordination – economic governance – soft law.

European Papers, Vol. 3, 2018, No 1, pp. 215-234
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/216

* Full Professor of Public Law, Université Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC),


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