Following the announcement on new member states made by the European Union, the OECD likewise declared that it does not have an intention to remain a closed organisation. Among the OECD Members, there are 19 EU member states, including its newest members: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Other EU member states – Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovenia, have expressed their wish to join the OECD in nearest future. However, in order to increase its global influence, the OECD would be interested to involve such major players as Brazil, China, India and Russia.
In December 2002, a decision was made to establish a working group at the OECD Permanent Representatives level to begin discussions concerning enlargement of the organisation. In May 2004, a report entitled A Strategy for Enlargement and Outreach, prepared by the working group headed by the Ambassador of Japan, Mr Seiichiro Noboru, was published. The Strategy plans to enlarge the organisation during the next decade from 30 to 40-45 member countries, and stipulates the following membership criteria:
- Like-mindedness: sharing basic values with current OECD Members, such as democratic principles, market economy, effective public administration, human rights, development co-operation, etc.
- Significant player: ability to contribute to the boosting of OECD competence and global influence.
- Mutual benefit: preparedness to contribute, in human capacity and financially, to OECD work.
- Global considerations: preparedness to contribute to OECD diversity in a broad sense.
However, it must be noted that conformity of a country to the aforesaid criteria does not automatically ensure the OECD member status. Accession to the organisation follows an invitation from the OECD Members, after they have reached a political consensus.
Many OECD Members believe that the organisation should be opened to accession only after the internal reforms of the OECD are completed. Therefore, in May 2006, the OECD Council at ministerial level adopted the governance reform of the organisation, and passed a decision to draft a mechanism for identifying countries for potential accession and countries for enhanced engagement. In September 2006, the OECD Council began discussions regarding the enlargement of the organisation, and assessment of potential candidate countries.
On 16 May 2007 the OECD Council at ministerial level adopted the Resolution on Enlargement and Enhanced Engagement inviting Chile, Estonia, Israel, Russia and Slovenia to open discussions for membership of the Organisation, and offered enhanced engagement, with a view to possible membership, to Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa. Applications of other countries shall be further considered individually as enlargement proceeds.