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Brussels, 03/11/2011

A Governance Mechanism for the G20?

The Open Method of Coordination

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As the world's political leaders prepare for the Cannes G20 meeting on November 3 and 4, bold solutions to global economic problems are once again on the agenda. The global economic circumstances require concerted actions and policy solutions from the world's most important economies. But is the G20 in its current form able to deliver, even when there is agreement amongst political leaders?

The evidence so far suggests a dilemma: Global policy issues require the G20, but the institution lacks implementation capabilities to really address the tasks it finds itself confronted with. Against this backdrop, the recent study by Henning Meyer, Stephen Barber and Chris Luenen seeks to use the European Union's experience with the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) to develop a new governance mechanism that would help to turn the G20 into a more effective global governance institution by improving its implementation capabilities.

The world awaits the upcoming G20 meeting in Cannes and virtually longs for sound economic and political solutions to major international challenges. Facing global economic imbalances, unstable financial markets, debt and deficit crises but also rising poverty, corruption and climate change, the G20 has to live up to high expectations. Since the nature of issues in this vein exceeds the capacities of national or regional institutions, there is more urgent need for efficient global governance than ever. However, in light of the G20’s past it remains doubtful whether the current shape of the G20 provides for a governance framework capable of addressing the current problems in a sustainable manner. The recent record of the G20 indicates a clear mismatch between meeting declarations and the implementation. This requires experts as well as policymakers to reconsider the current structure as well as the working style of the organization.  


Against this backdrop, the authors Henning Meyer, Stephen Barber and Chris Luenen follow an innovative approach by analyzing the potential of applying the Open Method of Coordination (OMC), which was originally intended to implement the EU’s Lisbon Agenda, to the G20. Starting with a closer look at the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the G20, they indentify the main challenges of the organization in the times ahead. In order to provide for urgently required sound global governance, the authors suggest that the G20 has to overcome its current status of a “single issue emergency institution.” Furthermore, the organization lacks effectiveness as it has currently no means available to strictly monitor and evaluate the implementation of its summit agreements. Last but not least, as many international organizations do, the G20 suffers weak input legitimacy which might undermine its political power in the longer run.      

To tackle these deficiencies the study argues that an adjusted version of the EU’s OMC might be an interesting option for the future development of the G20. According to the authors, the OMC “binds all players into a common process” and is sufficiently flexible to be adapted to different institutional settings and diverse policy areas. Complemented by additional organizational reforms like the establishment of a permanent G20 secretariat, the application of the OMC to G20 decisions might, from the authors’ point of view, considerably contribute to creating more efficient global governance structures.


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Sustainable Governance Indicators 2011

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