"We have to design a better version of democracy" [fr]
OPEN GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP VIRTUAL LEADERS SUMMIT
STATEMENT BY MR. EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC
New York, 24 September 2020
I was with you in New-York in September 2017. And I do remember our exchanges. And during the past 3 years, a lot of things did happen: we worked hard to modernize France, to involve citizens in public life, to release the energies of civil societies.
And, obviously, we experienced a series of crises, all over the world. Regional crises, but obviously the pandemic of the Covid19. And I have to say that theses crises have something of a “stress test” for our society. The “stress test” in not over, it is too early to claim victory.
The only way to make us more resilient to crises like this one is to ‘build back better’. I mean, we have now to design a better version of democracy – more open, more inclusive, with citizens at the center.
And what was core for all of us a few years ago, is absolutely a no-brainer for everybody post-Covid19. Looking around the world, this pandemic is a reminder of the importance of trust between governments and citizens. Of access to information and open data. Of giving space to citizens and civil society to organize and help.
So what do we have to do now? I don’t want to make a long speech. But, just to give some key ideas.
First, we must ensure that the recovery from the pandemic is as rapid as possible. That means ensuring stimulus money reaches those that need help, and is spent on green sustainable infrastructure. We have to accelerate the great transitions of our world: green and digital. This is key.
And this is why, in order to make these different programs and the rapid answer to this crisis efficient, we have to be sure that all stimulus packages are designed following this line. But we have as well to be sure that all stimulus packages should be available in open data, allowing citizens to follow the money, and to prevent inefficiency and even corruption. And I think this is absolutely critical because one of the main risks of a such rapid answer is to put a lot of money in some classical “white elephants” in the different regions of the world, not to be efficient and to fuel corruption.
Second, we must ensure that we don’t go back to the political systems we knew before. We must use this crisis as a wakeup call to reject the easy but false answers of populism and isolation. We have to build new models of democracy and put citizens first. France has experimented with citizen dialogue’s the last few years. A way to invigorate our democracy. In 2019, I personally toured all over the country in order to speak and exchange with mayors and people. In 2020, we had 150 randomly-selected citizens holding a convention on Climate to tell us the next steps to take. And we are getting ready to scale these initiatives up. In France, across Europe and the world.
On digital governance, France – and Europe – is showing that the choice is not between a state-controlled internet and an unregulated free-for-all. We can have sound digital governance based on principles of human rights, fair competition, open source and privacy. And I think this is exactly the best way to articulate innovation, internet, with good governance, and respect of our values.
This is the European model. This is why I do defend this model. And I think this is one of the only elements to build a new political system. I.E. to build a new common regulation of our digital world, in order not to be submitted, or overruled by Chinese regulation, I have to say, and Chinese players. And not to be de facto ruled by super powerful US players. We designed a lot of clear and efficient answers in France during this context but I think this is absolutely critical.
Third, we have to work together across borders. No one nation has all the answers. These are common problems requiring collective solutions: cooperation, multilateralism, a coalition of countries standing up for democracy and openness even when it comes under threat.
That is why France is a strong supporter of the Open Government Partnership. The foremost global forum for governments, civil society, citizens and the private sector to come together - not to tell each other what to do, but to share innovations, ideas and solutions to improve our countries. We must all be more ambitious. We must all take risks, and share, and learn, and inspire each other.
France has used OGP to advance critical issues such as sustainable development, open contracting, citizen participation, and accountability of the government’s use of technology.
Next year, the French government commits to co-create an even more ambitious set of reforms with our civil society partners in France, tackling our most pressing societal issues head-on.
We also commit to supporting other OGP members in opening up their governments, particularly throughout the Francophonie, and our European neighbors. I encourage other countries to join the OGP and rely on the community to help them rebuild after the crises we are living.
Through OGP, we can do all of this. And I welcome this gathering of leaders from around the world to recommit to those values of transparency, participation and accountability, that are the only way to strengthen our democracies for future challenges ahead. Thank you very much.