EU law 'transformed'? Evaluating accountability and subsidiarity in the 'streamlined' OMC for Social Inclusion and Social Protection

Mark Dawson


From initially defining new governance processes as external to "traditional" forms of EU law, a number of academic scholars have begun to argue that methods like the OMC can be seen as indicative of a broader "transformation" of European law-making. The transformation thesis relies on seeing the OMC as an evolving legal mechanism, in which features such as peer review, and the participation of 'new' constitutional actors, can take the place of traditional forms of legal accountability and participation.
At the same time, the transformation thesis remains empirically under-developed. Taking the new streamlined OMC process in social inclusion and social protection as its starting point, this paper will seek to remedy that gap. The paper evaluates the transformation thesis using interview data gained from the recent Commission evaluation of the OMC SPSI (conducted from 2005-2006). While the OMC SPSI displays evidence for a number of its features – it also displays some of the limits of the 'transformation' idea.
While the OMC as it stands indicates elements of a more 'dynamic' form of accountability and subsidiarity in the EU order, its lack of critical review and transparency, and failure to include local or regional actors casts doubt on its suitability as a replacement for traditional legal accountability mechanisms. As much as 'transformation' may offer an attractive future for EU law, its dynamic vision for open coordination remains largely unrealised.


accountability; European law; governance; legitimacy; open coordination; rule of law; social policy; subsidiarity; political science

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