belgium s experience with peer reviews by patrick van haute belgian ambassador to the oecd
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The First OECD-SouthEast Asia Regional Forum Jakarta, 23-24 January 2007

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Belgium’s experience with Peer Reviews By Patrick van Haute, Belgian Ambassador to the OECD. The First OECD-SouthEast Asia Regional Forum Jakarta, 23-24 January 2007. Belgium’s experience with Peer Reviews. Contents Historical background Today The 2007 Belgian economic review in detail

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belgium s experience with peer reviews
Belgium’s experience with Peer Reviews
  • Contents
  • Historical background
  • Today
  • The 2007 Belgian economic review in detail
  • Pro’s and Con’s
belgium s experience with peer reviews historical background 1
Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsHistorical Background (1)
  • 1914-1929-1945: Two World Wars, one Big Depression.
  • World War I: 6 to 10 millions dead
  • 1929 depression:
  • Governments try to isolate their economy from external shocks with competitive devaluations, withdrawal from FDI, tariffs increases, creation of trade preferences…
  • Failure of uncoordinated solutions
  • World War II: 62.5 millions dead: 23 in Soviet Union, 20 in Asia, 19 in WE and 600.000 in the US. The European economy is destroyed.
belgium s experience with peer reviews historical background 2
Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsHistorical Background (2)
  • 1945-1961
  • Multilateral reaction to rebuild the European economy: Marshall Plan (1947), OECE (1949), OECD (1961)
  • European reaction: ECCS (1951), Common Market (1957), EC, EU
  • OECD Convention Article 5

In order to achieve its aims, the Organisation may:

(a) take decisions which…shall be binding on all the Members

(b) make recommandationsto Members; and

(c) enter into agreements with Members, non-member States and international organisations.

  • Commitment by Member States to accept being reviewed.
belgium s experience with peer reviews historical background 3
Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsHistorical Background (3)
  • 1961-2007
  • 45 years of experience, changes, evolutions, … the peer review system is tailormade for the OECD countries. It is not a one-size-fits-all system.
  • Started with review of economic policy. During 45 years, extended to many other areas: energy, environment, regulatory reform, competition, e-government, development cooperation, …
  • In 2006, Belgium was under review in six different fields: energy, environment, economic review, anti-bribery, money laundering and development cooperation.
belgium s experience with peer reviews today
Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsToday
  • Features of the Peer Review process
  • Checks and balances between 3 parties: the country examined, the Committee and the Secretariat.
  • The Secretariat drafts, the country replies, the Committee discusses.
  • Two lead-examiners.
  • Adoption of the report by the EDRC Committee by consensus (i.e. with the approval of the reviewed country).
  • One or two visits to the country under review
  • Publication
belgium s experience with peer reviews a detailed example the belgian economic review 2007 1
Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsA detailed example: the Belgian Economic Review 2007(1)
  • The whole process takes almost 12 months.
  • Step 1 (End May 06): First questionnaire
    • 11 pages, 166 questions sent by the ECO Directorate. Questions are precise and targeted. No general political questions.
    • Topics: financial sector, labour market developments, tertiary education, …
    • The PM Office in Brussels allocates the questions between the different ministeries and agencies. They prepare written answers.
  • Step 2 (19-23 June 06): First visit:
    • a 4 persons team comes to Brussels for a full week of discussions: 5 days, 50 hours, meetings with 103 persons.
belgium s experience with peer reviews a detailed example the belgian economic review 2007 2
Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsA detailed example: the Belgian Economic Review 2007(2)
  • Step 3 (End August 06): Second questionnaire
    • 4 pages, 60 questions.
    • The PM Office in Brussels allocates the questions between the different agencies. They prepare written answers.
    • Topics: fiscal policy, labour market policies, tertiary education, financial markets, consumer policy, …
    • Prepared answers to the 2 questionnaires amounted 996 pages + 1043 pages of additional documentation.
  • Step 4 (11-13 September 06) Second visit
    • A 5 persons team comes to Brussels: 3 days, 30 hours of meetings with 66 persons.
belgium s experience with peer reviews a detailed example the belgian economic review 2007 3
Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsA detailed example: the Belgian Economic Review 2007(3)
  • Step 5 (20 November 06) Draft Report
    • 135 pages : 1 page executive summary, 6 pages of assessment and recommandaations, 15 recommandations.
    • Examples: a more ambitious fiscal objective is welcome, the labour market is still not functioning properly, tax incentives to savings should be reconsidered.
    • Report sent to PM Office which requests the agencies to react by 30 November.
    • Coordination of reactions by 7 December. 92 pages of redrafting proposals
  • Step 6 (11 December 06) EDRC session
    • The Economic Development Review Committee meets to examine the report: 6 hours, 15 Belgian delegation members, lead by PM Economic adviser.
    • Two lead-examiners: Portugal and Switzerland
belgium s experience with peer reviews a detailed example the belgian economic review 2007 4
Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsA detailed example: the Belgian Economic Review 2007(4)
  • Step 7 (12 December 2006) Session for redrafting the recommandations: 6 hours
  • Step 8 (During January 07) Written procedure to clear the definitive version by the EDRC committee (consensus)
  • Step 9 ( February 07) Translation and Printing
  • Step 10 (13 March 2007): Press conference in Brussels
  • by the Prime Minister and the OECD Secretary General to present the review
belgium s experience with peer reviews pro s and con s 1
Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsPro’s and Con’s (1)
  • Peer review is not naming and shaming: today’s reviewer will be reviewed tomorrow. All MS must hear the comments and recommandations by others.
  • The process is important, not just the book: through discussion with OECD staff, the authorities get a neutral and non-political view on their policies. Example: tuition fees for tertiary education.
  • Long term advice for short term policy makers.
  • Recommandations not mandatory: since the MS reviewed is free to implement the recommandations, the Secretariat (if followed by the Committee) is also free to make clear recommandations.
  • Quality: the level of expertise offered by the Secretariat needs to be matched in the capital. Statistics.
belgium s experience with peer reviews pro s and con s 2
Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsPro’s and Con’s (2)
  • Purpose is to help, not to fingerpoint. Avoid counterproductive results (example: the automatic indexation of wages)
  • Recommandations are based on theory, on expertise, on best practices, on shared experience. They are not based on national politics.
  • OECD recommandations represent a neutral view, from outside. They carry more weight than national recommandations.
  • Recommandations get more weigth through publication of the review.
  • Non members have also been reviewed: China, Chile, Argentina, Russia, … with positive results. For instance, the first Chinese review was concluded last year very successfully.
belgium s experience with peer reviews13
Belgium’s experience with Peer Reviews
  • Conclusion:
  • Governments like the review processes by the OECD because it helps them to convince their public opinion when policy adjustments are necessary.
  • Thank you
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