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Greenpeace France v. France

Jurisdiction: Administrative Court of Paris

Side A: Greenpeace France (Ngo)

Side B: France (Government)

Core objectives: Whether the Louvre Museum, a public institution, abused its power by not responding and thus implicitly refusing to disclose administrative documents relating to its partnership agreements with an oil and gas company.

On December 7th, 2021, Greenpeace France brought an action before the Paris Administrative Court seeking disclosure of the partnership between the Louvre Museum and the TotalEnergies Foundation as well as the list of members of the Louvre Business Circle. The responsibility of public institutions that accept donations from large oil and gas companies is at stake. 

TotalEnergies has regularly funded exhibitions at the Louvre Museum for more than twenty years. Until 2019, the Louvre Museum’s activity reports included TotalEnergies in its list of sponsors. In addition, TotalEnergies was one of the founding members of the 2004 Louvre Business Circle, which brings together corporate sponsors. Greenpeace requested copies of the partnership agreements between TotalEnergies and Louvre Museum. According to Greenpeace, in exchange for these donations, TotalEnergies was able to engage in economic and cultural diplomacy with the countries in which it wished to set up operations or develop business. 

This request comes five months after Greenpeace requested relevant documents from the Louvre Museum and Quai Branly Museum, which are both public institutions under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture. Under French administrative law, any person or legal entity has a right to access administrative documents and may, without having to justify their request, access documents held by the administration within the framework of its public service mission. This right is crucial to understand the decision-making processes and justifications of public policy decisions. While Quai Branly Museum has responded favorably and communicated all the requested partnership agreements signed since January 2015, the Louvre Museum had remained silent. Greenpeace filed a petition for abuse of power against the Louvre Museum for its implicit refusal to disclose administrative documents. 

On January 6, 2022, the French commission on access to administrative documents (Commission d'accès aux documents administratifs) issued a favorable decision for Greenpeace. The Louvre Museum had until February 6, 2022, to send all the requested documents (except the list of projects financed personally by Mr. Pouyanné). Total sent the documents to Greenpeace on January 27, 2022. As a result, Greenpeace France withdrew its claim (which lost its purpose since they obtained the requested documents).

Case documents

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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