France seeking to broaden Open Government Partnership

Open Government Partnership – Opening speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Paris, 7 December 2016

(…)

You’ve come here, to Paris, to exchange views, engage in dialogue, build new coalitions and propose new tools, so that the relationship between public authorities and citizens can be changed, and so that a new democracy can emerge.

A democracy where the state, government departments, public authorities open up to all initiatives, involve all those talented people who want to lend their support, where innovation is present everywhere to improve public performance, but also an understanding of the work of those who have received a popular mandate to take decisions.

A democracy which guarantees that governments, elected representatives and leaders do indeed serve the general interest alone; that they have integrity, that they’re responsible and accountable, that their action can be assessed and that they can then be proud to talk about the mark they’ve made and the commitments they’ve honoured. A democracy which inspires confidence and therefore eliminates indifference and mistrust.

The Open Government Partnership was created to coordinate and support all those men and women who share this vision, and to go even further: to pool the experience of all our societies. Since 2011, it’s come a long way: in less than five years the Partnership has spread from eight to 70 countries and enabled dozens of governments to cooperate with their societies, and 2,500 commitments have been promoted in 135 action plans. We’re gathered not merely to say what should be done: we’re already here to assess what has been done.

I also wanted – as early as 2012, when I took office – to bring France into this movement so that it too could make its contribution and set an example in terms of transparency, public involvement, the probity of its leaders, the openness of its administration and the sharing of data. So that France could also, as far as possible, be in the vanguard.

So the opening-up of public data has become a principle; it concerns every sector of government activity. A High Authority for Transparency in Public Life has been created. Fourteen thousand elected representatives and public officials must make declarations of their assets and interests, those of members of parliament are published, and ethical rules have been set and demand the most scrupulous compliance.

We’ve also adopted a law protecting whistleblowers which provides a framework for pressure groups, creates a public register and establishes an anti-corruption agency – it will be created at the beginning of next year.

This pledge of a more transparent, more open, more participatory democracy is part of what must be a commitment for politics, to make it fully ambitious and also a source of total pride, rehabilitate it in the eyes of our fellow citizens, show that it’s a commitment and not merely for show. But collectively we must go further. That’s the purpose of the Paris summit.

For my part, I have three goals in welcoming you today.

The first is to broaden our community. Since 2011, new members have joined the Partnership at each summit. Here too, we’ll be mindful of every initiative that enables us to add new countries: I’m thinking of Portugal, Morocco, Pakistan, Burkina Faso, Jamaica, Luxembourg and Germany. The leaders of Guinea and Haiti have also made their intentions known. We want this process to concern every country, whatever its level of development, every continent, and we also want it to be open to regions, local authorities, towns and cities – and I welcome those among us.

My second priority is for us to update our common pact. That’s the purpose of the declaration that will be published at the end of this summit. It recognizes that over the next five years, our Partnership will have to be assessed according to our ability to produce reforms that do indeed take shape in our fellow citizens’ lives. Everyone will have to produce national action plans.

We’ll also have to launch new alliances between public stakeholders and civil society in order, in each of our countries, to further citizens’ involvement, the administration’s ability to be held to account and assessed and its speed in transposing, translating practically what’s decided by law into everyday life. We also have the goal of broadening the scope of transparency by putting it at the service of sustainable development and the fight against climate change. (…)./.

Published on 09/12/2016

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