This paper focuses on the development of an employment anchored social policy framework within the European Union and explores how changing governance structures within the EU may influence national policy in this area. National Action Plans on Employment and Social Inclusion are the key pillars of the EU employment anchored social policy framework. The associated open method of policy coordination (OMC) is the process through which these plans are formulated. The achievement of the EU employment objectives is considered as is the issue of quality in employment and the constraints on its achievement in the context of a labour market characterised not only by the growth of high quality jobs but also by a substantial proportion of low quality jobs and a policy framework that gives primacy to economic over social policy. I consider the potential and limitations of the OMC for enhancing social policy objectives in the EU, in particular the gender equality dimension and conclude that a single OMC process involving all member states is essential in employment-enhancing areas if an employment anchored social policy is to be sustained, gender equality is to be achieved and the radical potential of OMC realised. The theoretical context within which these questions are addressed encompasses issues relating to governance of social policy at the supra-national level and its linkage to national welfare regimes.