It is already one month! About 30 days ago Parliament Watch Italia was at the Open Government Partnership Global Summit hosted in Paris  (7th-9th December 2016). We were there to present the roadmap for reforms planned in partnership with the municipality of Messina, which is a pilot of a long term project aiming at helping local governments develop Open Government policies.

The summit hosted governments, CSOs and other players engaged in fostering the Open Government (OG) transition, including 69 nations already committed, 6 new members (including Germany) preparing their first National Action Plan (which is usually the first step of the OG process) and some other nations not yet officially and practically committed but driven by curiosity. The event itself was huge and hard to describe in details. We will relate our point of view to evidence some general reasons of the importance of the summit, one disappointing lack that we noticed in the meeting and a comment in the network’s perspective to underline how we ought to act in this international scenario.

First of all, our first general impression was that something is really happening. Even if the actors involved are not fully representative of a compact and motivated interest of all nations involved, the OG model is deepening its roots rapidly and effectively, thanks to multilateral passionate efforts that come from all the forces that are interested in finding a way for a gradual innovation of our entire global system.

There are at least two simple reasons why OG has to be taken seriously, becoming a deep “non-violent revolution” of our system and a concrete transversal proposal for a great variety of nations all around the world. The first one is philosophical: OG is based on the opposite logic than the one on which Power has been built since the origin of our societies. Power itself is based not only on the distinction between the dominants and the dominated but also on the sacralisation of the dominants, namely on the interruption of any kind of horizontal relation amongst the two layers. OG tends, instead, toward the secularization of Power, wherever and whenever is applied, without hurting too much the religious status of a society. The second reason is practical: OG is convenient for both the dominants and the dominated because provides a space where their mutual relation is horizontal (therefore more acceptable), enhancing competitiveness and effectiveness of the system without denying the vertical dimension of Power as most of the past proposal that aimed to build an alternative, revolutionary and more equal system to rule our societies, thus OG is less contradictory than the various form of anarchism and socialism.

Going back on what, in our perspective, the meeting lacked, it was very disappointing the fact that there was a very scarce presence of European institutions, even if the OG agenda could be a really important enhancement of the European integration from an economic, political and cultural perspective. As a matter of fact, considering the quantity and quality of relations that were concretely developed among European civil society players, the meeting was (not-so-unexpectedly) one of the occasions through witch European integration is strengthened without the presence of its institution. The same can be said about the relationships developed between European civil society actors and non-EU neighbours: the meeting underlined that there are common efforts and challenges going, which link, at the civil society level, Europe and its neighbours in the same directions indicated by some of the EU cultural policies. This makes the lack of EU Institutional representation even worse.

The same constructive critique can be applied as an internal reflection within our network, according to its purpose, mission and principles. The presence of the network at the meeting was guaranteed by several associations that “happened to be there,” beside us: Vouliwatch hosted a table during the Civil Society Morning, Albawsala spoke in a session, Questionnezvoselus participated in the welcoming civil society night, and Sim Sim’s presence was guaranteed by Hind Kabaj and Andrew Mandelbaum. This meeting was therefore an important occasion for us, to meet among each other, like a “small network meeting” with all the logistic advantages that come from this kind of occasions.  Considering this, we think that it would have been really important to make an official communication during the previous network meeting in Tunis, or during any other occasion before the Open Government Partnership (OGP) summit, aimed at organizing a joint participation as a “network” in the meeting. We think that this would have brought benefits not only to the whole network but even to every single association. We really hope that the recent entrance of Germany in the OGP, that could add an important piece of our network to the partnership, is going to strengthen our joint commitment in the OGP and that, in the future, we will not loose the opportunity of reasoning and acting as a network. A thriving 2017 to all …