The European Council of Lisbon (December 2000) formally adopted the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) as a means to implement the Lisbon Strategy, a package of policies aimed at promoting economic and social innovations in the member states. The Open Method of Coordination is a means of governance based on the cooperation of member states. The formal introduction of the OMC, based on policy coordination at European level in order to induce change in national policies, triggered a lively scholarly debate on the role of new modes of governance in the EU. New modes of governance are roughly defined as non-hierarchical forms of political steering that rely on policy coordination among a multitude of institutional actors and across government levels. Scholars have coined a variety of terms to capture the characteristics of these governance modes, such as soft modes of governance, network governance, multilevel governance, experimental governance or, as we call it here and elsewhere, innovative governance. Despite the wide variety of terms, scholars hold several assumptions in common. Thus, most scholars assume that new modes of governance have only recently emerged. Furthermore, they assume that such modes of governance particularly emerge in policy areas where the Union lacks competences, while some form of common action is needed. Finally, many scholars take it for granted that non–hierarchical modes of governance result in weak impacts.