New EU time

Readers' views No 245, November 2004
OECD Observer

Ambassador John Rowan of Ireland writes in your May 2004 issue (“EU enlargement and the OECD: A new era”) that OECD membership has been a crucial part of his country’s well-known success story. The ambassador also recalls that of the 10 new member states of the European Union, only four are OECD members.

Will those new EU members who desire OECD membership be admitted to the organisation? They would certainly benefit. Particularly in transition (or converging) economies, the crucial lacking element is often a well-established policymaking and policy evaluation framework. Despite sometimes large bureaucracies, these countries’ policy processes are often short on sophisticated analysis and long on political intentions.

In terms of transmitting policy know-how, the OECD’s element of peer learning (and peer pressure) is a unique and indispensable complement to the external policy advising role offered by other international organisations, such as the international financial institutions. The OECD’s outreach programmes for nonmember states offer an important stop-gap to help ensure sound policy approaches in these countries, but without the peerto- peer interaction experienced by member states, much of the OECD’s unique advantage may be lost.

The OECD’s own enlargement strategy paper from May 2004 outlined the difficulties of taking on new members. There are concerns not only about the size of the OECD, but also a desire to ensure that new members make a contribution to the organisation. There are now approximately 16 states that have expressed interest in joining the OECD, according to the report.

Clearly, potential new members will be examined for their “like-mindedness” and as “significant players,” among other criteria. While “significant player” may refer to an ability to contribute new ideas rather than just money, the fact remains that the remaining new EU members that are not OECD members (Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovenia) collectively represent a population of only about 11 million.

Yet, through its genesis in the OEEC, the OECD has a unique historical bond with Europe. Moreover, Europe is one of the major centres in the world today representing the OECD’s shared values of democracy and a commitment to market principles. Helping achieve sound policymaking approaches in the new EU member states and encouraging their reform processes through peer-to-peer relations would strengthen the economic and political situation of the OECD as a whole. One would hope these countries are given a place towards the front of the applications queue.

—Ted Fisher, Budapest, Hungary

©OECD Observer No 245, November 2004

Economic data


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Read some of the insightful remarks made at OECD Forum 2017, held on 6-7 June. OECD Forum kick-started events with a focus on inclusive growth, digitalisation, and trust, under the overall theme of Bridging Divides.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • How do the largest community of British expats living in Spain feel about Brexit? Britons living in Orihuela Costa, Alicante give their views.
  • Brexit is taking up Europe's energy and focus, according to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Watch video.
  • OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King discuss the economic merits of a US border adjustment tax and the outlook for US economic growth.
  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at .

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2017