Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

What is the OECD?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was created in 1961. It succeeded the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, which was founded in the context of the Marshall Plan. The OECD currently has 38 member countries which share "the principles of the market economy, the rule of law and respect for human rights".

The OECD carries out comparative analyses of public policies and advanced economic/statistical studies. Its activities primarily cover:

  • economic issues,
  • the environment,
  • development,
  • public management,
  • the fight against corruption,
  • international trade and agriculture,
  • financial, tax and business issues,
  • science, technology, and innovation,
  • social policy and education (PISA programme)
  • regional development issues.

These issues are discussed in subsidiary committees and bodies in which the Member States, the Secretariat and, in some cases, the associated States are involved in dialogue.

Energy-related issues are dealt with by two specialised bodies:

  • the International Energy Agency ;
  • the Nuclear Energy Agency, created in 1958, which promotes the safe use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Over the last 20 years, the OECD has extended its area of analysis to all countries that claim to have a market economy. The OECD has therefore developed dialogue with the dynamic economies of Asia and Latin America.


What are the prospects?

Globalisation, rapid innovation, and digitisation have caused significant changes to a world in which the factors of stability, both political and economic, are being challenged. The OECD must adapt to this new landscape and find a place for itself in the international architecture. Activities such as the study of the taxation of digital platforms, gender equality, artificial intelligence and the economic analysis of value chains are underway to take account of these new challenges.

At the same time, thanks to close participation in the work of the G20 since the 2008 financial crisis, the OECD has been considering global issues such as green growth, increased tax transparency through conventions to combat base erosion and profit shifting (known as the BEPS agreements) and climate change. If we have to talk in terms of challenges for the Organisation, the following should be mentioned:

  • Reconcile an outward-looking approach and prospective relationships with non-members, while maintaining (particularly for budget reasons) the quality of the work and the standards of the Organisation, for the benefit of Member States.
  • Focus on the status of observer and associate members, some of which have been members for many years and benefit from a vast range of information without fully participating in the organisation's budget.

The last countries to join the organisation were Chile, Estonia, Israel, and Slovenia in 2010, Latvia in 2016 and Lithuania in 2018. Colombia became a member on 28 April 2020 and Costa Rica became the 38th member of the OECD on 25 May 2021. The debate is still ongoing about opening negotiations with six possible candidate countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru). A clear majority of EU Member States support an inclusive approach, i.e., accepting these 6 countries altogether.

Lastly, the debate on the appointment of a new Secretary General, following three successive mandates by Mr Gurría, took place in 2020-21. The new Secretary General, Mr. M. CORMANN, from Australia, took up his duties on 1st June 2021.



Website of the Permanent Representation of Belgium to the OECD