Accession to the OECD Convention remains the most effective way to secure countries’ comprehensive commitment to OECD standards and to fulfil the Organisation’s mission to level the global playing field towards better policies for better lives.
Since 2006, the OECD has made significant efforts to strengthen its global impact and ensure its relevance for Member and Partner countries. Between 2007 and 2021, eight new Members joined the OECD: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Estonia, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia. On 25 January 2022, the OECD Council decided to take the first step in accession discussions with six candidate countries – Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Peru and Romania.
At the Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) 2016, Ministers called “for a strategic reflection by Members on the future size and membership of the Organisation and for a report to the 2017 MCM”.
An evidence-based Framework for the Consideration of Prospective Members was subsequently developed, which aims to provide OECD Members with consistent information on which to base their decision regarding whether or not to open accession discussions with a country interested in OECD membership.
This Framework, adopted by the OECD Council on 2 June 2017 and presented to the 2017 MCM, also helps prospective Members to assess their position before signalling their interest in becoming a Member of the OECD.
The decision to take the first step in accession discussions with Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Peru and Romania in 2022 followed careful deliberation by OECD Members on the basis of the Framework and the progress made by the six countries since their first respective requests for OECD membership.
The process for applying the Framework is as follows:
1) Considerations to open an accession process can be made on the initiative of the Council or upon receipt of a written request by a prospective Member. Upon receipt of a formal request, the Secretary-General shares the request with the Council.
2) Using the Framework, the Secretary-General will provide Council with comprehensive information on a prospective Member covering the elements listed in Annex I of the Framework.
3) Based inter alia on this comprehensive information provided by the Secretary-General, and on Council’s judgement, the Council may decide whether or not to open accession discussions, or to engage with the prospective Member through other means, using one or more of the available OECD global relations tools.
4) The Secretary-General will communicate the Council’s decision to the prospective Member.
5) Should Council agree to open accession discussions with a prospective Member, the Secretary-General will proceed to prepare an Accession Roadmap (see section below) for adoption by the Council.
Each country follows its own accession process and is assessed independently.
An Accession Roadmap is developed to detail the terms, conditions and process of each accession discussion. The process includes rigorous and in-depth evaluations by more than 20 technical committees on a broad range of policy areas. These reviews assess the candidate country’s alignment with the relevant OECD instruments, and evaluate its policies and practices as compared to OECD policies and practices. As part of these reviews,, changes to the candidate countries’ legislation, policy and practices are required to bring them into line with OECD standards and best practices, thus serving as a powerful catalyst for reform.
There is no deadline for completion of the accession processes. The timeline for the accession process depends on the pace at which the candidate country provides information to Committees and responds to recommendations for changes to the relevant legislation, policies and practices.
At the end of their technical reviews, each Committee provides a “formal opinion” to the OECD Council.
On the basis of the formal opinions and other relevant information, the Council takes a final and unanimous decision on whether to extend an invitation to the candidate country to become a Member. An Accession Agreement is then signed and the candidate country takes the necessary domestic steps to eventually deposit an instrument of accession to the OECD Convention with the depositary, i.e. the French government.
On the date of deposit, the candidate country formally becomes a Member of the OECD.