France and United Kingdom commit to global transparency standard
At a joint press conference in Paris, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and President of France Francois Hollande announced Wednesday evening that France and the United Kingdom will implement the EITI, the global standard for transparency of government revenues from natural resources.
The two countries will join around 40 other countries in implementing the EITI Standard, which requires full disclosure of taxes, royalties and other fees from the country's oil, gas and mining sectors.
Chair of the EITI, Clare Short said “I am delighted that the French and UK Governments have committed to implement the EITI. This demonstrates a commitment to getting their own houses in order on extractive industries best practice. It is only through transparency of the production of oil, gas and mining across the world that we can limit corruption, make sure that the sector is well governed, and that the income from it leads to development. In France and the UK, the EITI will hopefully provide a focus for informed debates about the sector. Globally, it will signal that transparent management of the extractive industries is not an aspiration for countries, it is an expectation.”
This announcement comes on the eve of the EITI Global Conference in Sydney at which representatives from almost 100 countries will come together to share best practice on natural resource management.
At the conference, a strengthened EITI Standard is set to be adopted. Ministers for Development Pascal Canfin (France) and Justine Greening (UK) welcomed the revised EITI Standard, saying that "France and the United Kingdom fully encourage the strengthening and the extension of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)".
Urging other G8 leaders to follow
The announcement also precedes the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, which will focus on tax, transparency and trade.
Encouraging G8 leaders to implement the transparency in-line with the EITI, David Cameron wrote in an op-ed in Wall Street Journal one week ago: "We must lift the veil of secrecy that too often lets corrupt corporations and officials in some countries run rings around the law. The G8 must move toward a global common standard for resource-extracting companies to report all payments to governments, and in turn for governments to report those revenues. This will encourage more investment in resource-rich countries and level the playing field for business."
Speaking about an urgent review of UK's position on the EITI, Cameron wrote in an open letter to G8 leaders early this year: "We cannot call on other countries to live up to these high standards if we are not prepared to do so ourselves."
History of the EITI
It is ten years since the UK government convened leaders from other governments, extractives companies and civil society organisations from around the world met in London. They discussed how to address the challenges of good management of natural resources that left of citizens excluded from the benefits of their country’s abundant wealth. They identified that a lack of transparency and accountability lay at the core of the challenge and agreed the EITI Principles, which say that “natural resource wealth should be an important engine for sustainable economic growth”.
Over the next years, these stakeholders developed what is now known as the EITI Standard, which specifies what countries should do to ensure transparency of the payments to the government from oil, gas and mining companies operating in that country.
Ten years later, 37 countries have started to require transparency by implementing the EITI standard, and other countries [link] such as the United States, Colombia, the Philippines and Myanmar have announced that they too would do so.
Why aren’t more OECD/G8 countries implementing?
The EITI started out as an initiative to improve transparency and accountability in countries that faced large challenges in their extractives sectors. Since then, resource-rich OECD countries have also started to see the benefits for implementing this global transparency standard. Norway has become EITI Compliant, Australia is implementing an EITI pilot, and the United States has announced that they will implement the EITI. Many of the other developed countries have small or negligible extractives sectors.