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Harvard European Law Association
Working Papers Series Graduate Seminar

US Experimentalism: A Governance

Model for the EU?

Wednesday, December 3d, 12 – 1 p.m.
Location: Pound 203

***     Refreshments will be served!    ***

Visiting Researcher Mark Dawson from the European University Institute (Florence, Italy) will present on new modes of governance and law-making in the European Union.


In the last decade, the European Union has begun to experiment with new mechanisms for the agreement of EU laws. Perhaps the most significant has been the ‘Open Method of Coordination’ (OMC) – an instrument of ‘soft law’, designed to coordinate Member State action in sensitive policy areas. The OMC has significantly altered the basic model for EU law, focusing not on the agreement of common standards, but on the need to adapt European rules to a more local context, ‘experimenting’ with different policy solutions in the process.

This new focus has attracted US attention. It opens the door to a reading of the OMC as part of a new and ‘transformative’ stage in European integration; one where open and experimental legal standards become a central part of European law-making more broadly. On the other hand, the experimentalist framework has attracted some resistance – do the differences between the US and EU contexts make it unsuitable for European consumption? And do the basic tenets of experimentalism actually explain the operation of the OMC as it stands? In the presentation we will pose a question that has become central to Trans-Atlantic scholarship on ‘new governance’: can this particular model for legal reform either explain or guide vital changes in the EU’s governance architecture?


You can read Mark’s Working Paper at

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