EU Youth Policy - A Waterfall of Softness

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Since the introduction of the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) in 2000 it has become the dominant instrument to further the integration of EU social policies. The legally non-binding nature of the OMC has created a lively scholarly debate in which two types of research have been conducted: firstly, research examining the functioning and effectiveness of the OMC in creating change in the Member States; and secondly, the examination of the function and effectiveness of the OMC in conjunction with other governance instruments, such as hard law, and the integration capacity created by different governance structures (hybridity). This paper contributes to the latter issue via an analysis of EU integration within the field of Youth Policy. EU Youth Policy is a relatively under-examined policy field. We argue however, that EU Youth Policy has developed to form its own hybrid governance structure. Contrary to existing research which examines hybrid structures in which the OMC interacts with hard law, EU Youth Policy has developed a hybrid structure in which the OMC mainly interacts with other ‘soft’ legal instruments.


Beryl ter Harr, Paul Copeland

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