Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


The organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, created in 1961, is the successor of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), which was founded in the context of the Marshall Plan. The OECD currently has 36 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, education (PISA programme) and regional development issues. They are carried out through its subsidiary committees and bodies, which act a discussion fora for Member States, the Secretariat and, in some cases, the associated States.

Energy-related issues are dealt with by two specialised bodies: the International Energy Agency (see Energy), and 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.

Evolution, 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 also 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.
  • It is useful to 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 was invited to join the OECD in March 2020, but has yet to ratify its membership through legislation. In April 2015, membership discussions were launched with Costa Rica and the process could be finalised during 2020. The debate continues regarding the opening of negotiations with six potential candidate countries (ROM, BULG, CRO, BRE, ARG and PERU). The majority of EU MS favour an inclusive approach (accepting the six countries in one block).

Lastly, the debate on the appointment of a new Secretary General, following three successive mandates by Mr Gurría, will begin in 2020-21.