What kind of consensus? Conflicting notions of effectiveness within the Social Protection Committee

Anna Horvath


The Social Protection Committee (SPC) is the main forum for exchanging information and best practices among the member states within the framework of the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) in the fields of social protection and social inclusion. This implies that looking at how and when the SPC can work 'effectively' is crucial in understanding the potentials of the so-called social OMC. As committee delegates – together with other key actors – define the acceptable and desirable modes of interactions, the successfulness of these interactions is also tied to their own perceptions of effectiveness. Therefore, this article looks at participants' perceptions in order to reconstruct abstract categories based on which the actors themselves evaluate their own working practices, taking into account both the "uploading" and the "downloading" dimension of the process. The article has two main goals. First, it lists the criteria of effectiveness linked to both national and European-level factors that SPC members rely on when evaluating the work of their own committee. Second, based on the abstract concepts of effectiveness that emerge on the basis of in-depth interviews, the article formulates more general hypotheses about the effective functioning of EU level committees, which can be used as bases for future research.


institutionalisation; open coordination; expert committees; governance; participation; organisation theory; social policy; political science

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