Morgane Dussud, Madrid, 15 February 2013 – Access Info Europe calls upon the French government to make clear its position on participation in the Open Government Partnership and to take steps to join the multilateral, multi-stakeholder initiative.

As part of work around the Open Government Standards project, Access Info has been evaluating the current confused relationship between non-member France and the OGP.

In April 2012, a comment on France’s Open Data platform, by a representative of the Etalab initiative which coordinates the site stated “The Open Government Partnership is an U.S. initiative in favor of open governance aiming at its historic sphere of influence (Anglo-Saxon world and Latin America). (…)France also has initiated a dialogue with the steering committee of the OGP with the aim to join the initiative.” (Access Info translation).

It seems that the discussion over the participation of France to the OGP has been going on internally for a while. It is possible that the process slowed down around last May 2012 with general elections which resulted in a change of government.

In late 2012, Access Info Europe wrote to the French Prime Minister’s Office requesting documents containing communication between France and the OGP. The request went unanswered and handed over to France’s Information Commission, the CADA (Commission d’Accès aux Documents Administratifs).

On 10 January 2013, the CADA informed Access Info that, “no decision had been taken on the subject

[of participating in the OGP]”. Moreover, the reply stated that the Prime Minister had not yet been invited by the, “foreign private law foundation at the heart of the [OGP]” to join or participate in the initiative.

These conflicting messages about France’s position on participation in the OGP initiative have created confusion. Whilst this may be due to the national political context (the change in government and senior civil servants following the Presidential Elections in May 2012) the statements also demonstrate a certain unease by France towards US-led initiatives.

Access Info Europe urges the French government to make clear its position on participation in the OGP and to join the initiative.

Helen Darbishire, Executive Director, commented that “Access Info would be encouraged by French involvement in this valuable Open Government initiative and we call upon the French government to begin the process towards participating. It would be a great shame if France were to miss out on major developments in the Open Government movement, as this would disadvantage French citizens’ rights to transparent, participative and accountable government.