EITI candidate and compliant countries undertake to annually publish the taxes, royalties and other payments they receive from oil, gas and mining companies, while the companies publish their payments to each member country.
A multi-stakeholder group of government, company and civil society representatives oversees the process in each implementing country.
The UK has been one of the EITI’s main supporters since it was launched by Tony Blair in 2002 but until now has resisted joining as a candidate country.
The governments join 39 EITI member countries, of which most are in Africa.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande made the announcement in a press conference in Paris on May 22.
Publish What You Pay – a global coalition of civil society organisations made up of more than 650 member organisations across the world – welcomed the governments’ decision.
“The UK’s commitment to become an EITI member is long overdue,” PWYP international director Marinke van Riet said in a statement.
“The EITI enhances transparency in the way each country governs its natural resources on behalf of its citizens and it is right for the UK to set itself the same standards that it asks resource-dependent developing countries to meet.
“We are delighted that France has taken the decision to join the initiative too and call on both countries to raise the bar in terms of EITI implementation.”
The coalition this week urged Australia to stamp out corruption by implementing measures adopted in the US and the European Union.
It would see mining and gas companies based and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange report payments made in the countries they are doing business in.
The call coincided with a two-day EITI global conference in Sydney, where hundreds of government officials, mining companies and non-governmental organisations came together.
PWYP Australia coordinator Claire Spoors said the time was right for Australia to adopt new reporting rules as other countries moved to make mining payments to governments more transparent.
At the Sydney conference the EITI agreed to a global transparency standard aiming to strengthen reporting benchmarks, with participants required to give data on commodity sales broken down by "individual company, government entity and revenue stream" for the first time.
Spoors said secrecy and corruption often resulted in the income from natural resources going missing and not benefiting communities.
She welcomed the decision by France and the UK to join the EITI board.
“I am delighted that the UK and French governments have committed to implement the EITI,” Spoors said.
“Through transparency in the management of oil, gas and mining across the world we can limit corruption, make sure that the sector is well governed and ensure that the income from it leads to development.
“In the UK and France, 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 a standard that both north and south should commit to.”