The EU developed the Open Method of Coordination in 2000, under the framework of the Lisabon Strategy.
The Open Method of Coordination represents a cooperation mechanism among the Member States of the European Union, in areas governed by the national level jurisdiction, but which require stronger support. This usually refers to the so-called “soft law” (soft acquis), or regulations that are not a part of the EU law (acquis communautaire). OMC was first used in the areas of social inclusion, pensions and health care. Later on, this cooperation mechanism was used in the areas of employment, customer support, immigration and education.
OMC operates in the following order: ministers from the Member States agree on general objectives in a certain field in the Council of Ministers; the Member States integrate the established objectives into national policies; finally, each Member State decides on specific aims, activities and parameters that will be used for measuring results, systematic monitoring and evaluation of the results achievement. The participating Member States improve their policies and realization of the objectives set by exchanging lessons learned and best practices. The European Commission provides expert and technical support to the process.
In the field of education, each Member State is responsible for organization and content of the education system. According to the Article 165. of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the European Union takes part only in development of the education by supporting cooperation and exchanges among the Member States, supporting certain activities when possible. The cooperation among the Member States and the EU institutions is based on the strategic collaboration in education and training. (Education and Training 2020 – ЕТ 2020).
In 2013, the ministers of education of all the Member States agreed on the need for a stronger influence of E&T in the development of the new European Union strategy “Europe 2020.” It was decided that all thematic working groups within OMC would be reorganized, so they can achieve the objectives and priorities that are defined in strategy “Europe 2020” more effectively. The activities are currently divided into six thematic working groups:
1. Adult Learning
2. Modernization of Higher Education
3. Schools (focused on Early School Leaving and the Teaching Profession)
4. Vocational Education and Training
5. Development of Transversal skills (focused on Information and Communication Technologies, Entrepreneurial Skills and Languages)
6. Digital and Online Learning