1. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which was founded in 1961, replaced the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), which had come into being in the wake of the Marshall Plan. The OECD consists of 34 countries having a number of principles in common: a market economy, a pluralist democracy and respect for human rights. In addition, it is a unique forum to exchange ideas, and to outline and adjust policy lines.

2. From the moment it was founded, the OECD’s task was to provide the economy of its members with a sturdier foundation, improve its efficacy, promote the market economy and contribute towards the growth of the developed and developing countries. For this reason the Organisation comparatively analyses forms of policy, in which it follows the lessons learnt from its members’ experience and from an every-increasing number of non-member countries. The OECD assists countries in developing solutions for common sticking points and in co-ordinating national and international policy lines.

Its operations are related in particular to financial issues, compiling statistics, the environment, development, government management, international trade, financial, tax and business matters, science, technology and industry, social policy and agriculture, regional subject matter and co-operation with non-members. This work is done on committees and subordinate bodies.

Two specialised organisations deal with energy issues: the International Energy Agency (IEA), an independent organisation which was founded after the first oil crisis in 1974, to co-ordinate energy policy; and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), which was founded in 1958, the aim of which is to promote safety when using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

3. For approximately ten years now the OECD has been making efforts to expand its field of analysis to all countries which are in favour of a market economy and it makes its expertise available to up-and-coming market economies (in particular, countries switching from a planned economy to a liberal system). It also continues its efforts to develop dialogue with the dynamic Asian and Latin-American economies.

Course of events and prospects

1. Globalisation, speedy innovation and the development of the Internet have brought about fundamental changes and create great challenges for political and economic stability factors. The OECD must adjust to these new horizons and work out what its position is in the international architecture. Work is currently being done to reassess OECD operations, while duly taking globalisation challenges into account and offering the prospects of a platform for a wide-ranging and modernised debate that is open to significant new actors.

2. Against the background of ever-increasing globalisation, the OECD had to explore new areas such as sustainable development, the information society, a number of immigration aspects, the consequences of the ageing population and serious risk analysis. Some operations were moved up to a higher position on the Organisation’s agenda due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They were particularly focused on the consequences terrorism had on the economy, on protecting communication and on nuclear power plants.

3. One of the main focuses of OECD action since its creation has been development and relationships with developing countries. This focus has increased since the Millennium Conferences, partly through the Belgian Presidency of the ministerial conference in 2002, which highlighted the relationship with NEPAD and Africa. This resulted in the adoption of a development strategy in 2012, whose objectives are to integrate the realities of developing countries into analyses and consulting, use a coherent development approach in all its actions and provide the OECD's skills in a wide range of fields of action. This should allow the OECD to become part of the new framework created by the sustainable development goals.

At the same time, thanks to its close involvement in the work of the G20, the OECD is endeavouring to deliberate on global issues such as green growth, fiscal transparency 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 the quality of the work and the standards of the Organisation. The development of a global strategy of openness was adopted following the 2004 ministerial conference.

In 2007, the OECD initiated the membership process with five new countries (Estonia, Russia, Slovenia, Israel and Chile). In 2010, this process resulted in the membership of Estonia, Slovenia, Israel and Chile. Russia's membership process has been significantly delayed due to the current tensions. Costa Rica and Lithuania formally launched their OECD membership process in April 2015. Chile and Latvia are involved in informal discussions with a view to launching the formal membership process in the near future.

Furthermore, an enhanced engagement process with China, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil is also on the Organisation's agenda.