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Constitution of the French Republic: September 28, 1958 (as Amended to July 23, 2008) (France [fr])

Constitution of the French Republic: September 28, 1958 (as Amended to July 23, 2008) (France [fr])

© 2008 Oxford University Press
Comment:

The changes which have been introduced by Constitutional Act No. 2008-724 of July 23, 2008 published in the Journal Officiel No. 0171 of July 24, p. 11890, are printed in italics for easy reference. The amendments enter into force on different dates (see Article 46 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724). Some amendments have already become effective with the promulgation of the Constitutional Act voted by Congress. Other amendments will only enter into force once the ordinary statutes and Institutional Acts necessary for their implementation have been adopted or amended: Articles 11, 13, 25 (last paragraph), 34-1, 39, 44, 56, 61-1, 65, 69, 71-1 and 73 belong to this group of amendments. The changes to Articles 41, 42, 43, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50-1, 51-1 and 51-2 will enter into force on March 1, 2009. The new heading of Title XV and the amended Articles 88-1, 88-2, 88-4, 88-5, 88-6, and 88-7 will only become effective on the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon of December 13, 2007 modifying the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community. In addition, the amended version of Article 88-5 is subject to the same reservation as the previous text, i.e. that it shall not apply to accessions subsequent to an Intergovernmental Conference of which the convening was decided by the European Council before July 1, 2004 (see Article 47 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724). In those cases in which the amendments had not yet entered into force as of August 1, 2008, both the old and the new version of the relevant Articles have been included in the English text, with the new version printed in italics. The amended parts of those Articles are highlighted in bold italic type.

 

Constitution of the French Republic: September 28, 1958 (as Amended to July 23, 2008)

THE CONSTITUTION OF OCTOBER 4, 1958 (as Amended to July 23, 2008)

The Government of the Republic, in accordance with the Constitutional Act of June 3rd 1958, has proposed,

The French people have adopted,

The President of the Republic hereby promulgates the Constitutional Act worded as follows:

Preamble

The French people solemnly proclaim their attachment to the Rights of Man and the principles of national sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789, confirmed and complemented by the Preamble to the Constitution of 1946, and to the rights and duties as defined in the Charter for the Environment of 2004.

By virtue of these principles and that of the self-determination of peoples, the Republic offers to the overseas territories which have expressed the will to adhere to them new institutions founded on the common ideal of liberty, equality and fraternity and conceived for the purpose of their democratic development.

Article 1 

France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. It shall be organized on a decentralized basis.

Statutes shall promote equal access by women and men to elective offices and positions, as well as to professional and social positions.[1]

Title I  On Sovereignty

Article 2 

The language of the Republic shall be French.

The national emblem shall be the blue, white and red tri-color flag.

The national anthem shall be La Marseillaise.

The maxim of the Republic shall be "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity."

The principle of the Republic shall be: government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Article 3 

National sovereignty shall vest in the people, who shall exercise it through their representatives and by means of referendum.

No section of the people nor any individual may arrogate to itself, or to himself, the exercise thereof.

Suffrage may be direct or indirect as provided for by the Constitution. It shall always be universal, equal and secret.

All French citizens of either sex who have reached their majority and are in possession of their civil and political rights may vote as provided for by statute.

Article 4 

Political parties and groups shall contribute to the exercise of suffrage. They shall be formed and carry on their activities freely. They shall respect the principles of national sovereignty and democracy.

They shall contribute to the implementation of the principle set out in the second paragraph of Article 1 as provided for by statute.

Statutes shall guarantee pluralism in the expression of opinions and equitable participation of political parties and groups in the democratic life of the Nation.[2]

Title II  The President of the Republic

Article 5 

The President of the Republic shall ensure due respect for the Constitution. He shall ensure, by his arbitration, the proper functioning of the public authorities and the continuity of the State.

He shall be the guarantor of national independence, territorial integrity and due respect for Treaties.

Article 6 

The President of the Republic shall be elected for a term of five years by direct universal suffrage.

Nobody may serve more than two consecutive terms.[3]

The manner of implementation of this Article shall be determined by an Institutional Act.

Article 7 

The President of the Republic shall be elected by an absolute majority of votes cast. If such a majority is not obtained on the first ballot, a second ballot shall take place on the fourteenth day thereafter. Only the two candidates polling the greatest number of votes in the first ballot, after any withdrawal of better placed candidates, may stand in the second ballot.

The process of electing a President shall commence by the calling of said election by the Government.

The election of the new President shall be held no fewer than twenty days and no more than thirty-five days before the expiry of the term of the President in office.

Should the Presidency of the Republic fall vacant for any reason whatsoever, or should the Constitutional Council on a referral from the Government rule by an absolute majority of its members that the President of the Republic is incapacitated, the duties of the President of the Republic, with the exception of those specified in Articles 11 and 12, shall be temporarily exercised by the President of the Senate or, if the latter is in turn incapacitated, by the Government.

In the case of a vacancy, or where the incapacity of the President is declared to be permanent by the Constitutional Council, elections for the new President shall, except in the event of a finding by the Constitutional Council of force majeure, be held no fewer than twenty days and no more than thirty-five days after the beginning of the vacancy or the declaration of permanent incapacity.

In the event of the death or incapacitation in the seven days preceding the deadline for registering candidacies of any of the persons who, fewer than thirty days prior to such deadline, have publicly announced their decision to stand for election, the Constitutional Council may decide to postpone the election.

If, before the first round of voting, any of the candidates dies or becomes incapacitated, the Constitutional Council shall declare the election to be postponed.

In the event of the death or incapacitation of either of the two candidates in the lead after the first round of voting before any withdrawals, the Constitutional Council shall declare that the electoral process must be repeated in full; the same shall apply in the event of the death or incapacitation of either of the two candidates still standing on the second round of voting.

All cases shall be referred to the Constitutional Council in the manner laid down in the second paragraph of Article 61 or in that laid down for the registration of candidates in the Institutional Act provided for in Article 6.

The Constitutional Council may extend the time limits set in paragraphs three and five above, provided that polling takes place no later than thirty-five days after the decision of the Constitutional Council. If the implementation of the provisions of this paragraph results in the postponement of the election beyond the expiry of the term of the President in office, the latter shall remain in office until his successor is proclaimed.

Neither Articles 49 and 50 nor Article 89 of the Constitution shall be implemented during the vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic or during the period between the declaration of the permanent incapacity of the President of the Republic and the election of his successor.

Article 8 

The President of the Republic shall appoint the Prime Minister. He shall terminate the functions of the Prime Minister when the latter tenders the resignation of the Government.

Upon recommendation of the Prime Minister, he shall appoint the other members of the Government and terminate their appointments.

Article 9 

The President of the Republic shall preside over the Council of Ministers.

Article 10 

The President of the Republic shall promulgate Acts of Parliament within fifteen days following the final passage of an Act and its transmission to the Government.

He may, before the expiry of this time limit, ask Parliament to reopen debate on the Act or any sections thereof. Such reopening of debate shall not be refused.

Article 11 

The President of the Republic may, on a recommendation from the Government when Parliament is in session, or on a joint motion of the two Houses, published in the Journal officiel, submit to a referendum any Government Bill which deals with the organization of the public authorities, or with reforms relating to the economic or social policy of the Nation, and to the public services contributing thereto, or which provides for authorization to ratify a treaty which, although not contrary to the Constitution, would affect the functioning of the institutions.

Where the referendum is held on the recommendation of the Government, the latter shall make a statement before each House and the same shall be followed by a debate.

Where the outcome of the referendum is favorable to the Government Bill, the President of the Republic shall promulgate the resulting statute within fifteen days following the proclamation of the results of the vote.

Article 11 [4]

The President of the Republic may, upon a recommendation from the Government when Parliament is in session, or on a joint motion of the two Houses, published in the Journal officiel, submit to a referendum any Government Bill which deals with the organization of the public authorities, or with reforms relating to the economic, social or environmental policy of the Nation, and to the public services contributing thereto, or which provides for authorization to ratify a treaty which, although not contrary to the Constitution, would affect the functioning of the institutions.

Where the referendum is held on the recommendation of the Government, the latter shall make a statement before each House and the same shall be followed by a debate.

A referendum which deals with one of the subjects mentioned in the first paragraph may be organized upon the initiative of one fifth of the Members of Parliament acting with the support of one tenth of registered voters. The initiative shall take the form of a Private Members' Bill and may not have as its object the abrogation of a statutory provision promulgated less than a year before.

The manner in which the Bill shall be introduced and in which the Constitutional Council shall control the compliance with the provisions of the preceding paragraph shall be determined by an Institutional Act.

If the Private Members Bill has not been examined by the two Houses within a period determined by the Institutional Act, the President of the Republic shall submit it to a referendum.

Where the Private Members' Bill is not adopted by the French people, no new proposal for a referendum by Members of Parliament dealing with the same subject may be introduced for a period of two years following the date of the vote.

Where the outcome of the referendum is favorable to the Government Bill or the Private Members' Bill, the President of the Republic shall promulgate the resulting statute within fifteen days following the proclamation of the results of the vote.

Article 12 

The President of the Republic may, after consulting the Prime Minister and the Presidents of the Houses of Parliament, declare the National Assembly dissolved.

A general election shall take place no fewer than twenty days and no more than forty days after the dissolution.

The National Assembly shall sit as of right on the second Thursday following its election. Should this sitting fall outside the period prescribed for the ordinary session, a session shall be convened by right for a fifteen-day period.

No further dissolution shall take place within a year following said election.

Article 13 

The President of the Republic shall sign the Ordinances and Decrees deliberated upon in the Council of Ministers.

He shall make appointments to the civil and military posts of the State.

Conseillers d'Etat, the Grand Chancelier de la Légion d'Honneur, Ambassadors and Envoys Extraordinary, Conseillers Maitres of the Cour des Comptes, Prefects, State representatives in the overseas communities to which article 74 applies and in New Caledonia, highest-ranking Military Officers, Recteurs des Académies and Directors of Central Government Departments shall be appointed in the Council of Ministers.

An Institutional Act shall determine the other posts to be filled at meetings of the Council of Ministers and the manner in which the power of the President of the Republic to make appointments may be delegated by him to be exercised on his behalf.

Article 13 [5]

The President of the Republic shall sign the Ordinances and Decrees deliberated upon in the Council of Ministers.

He shall make appointments to the civil and military posts of the State. Conseillers d'Etat, the Grand Chancelier de la Légion d'Honneur, Ambassadors and Envoys Extraordinary, Conseillers Maitres of the Cour des Comptes, Prefects, State representatives in the overseas communities to which Article 74 applies and in New Caledonia, highest-ranking Military Officers, Recteurs des Académies and Directors of Central Government Departments shall be appointed in the Council of Ministers.

An Institutional Act shall determine the other posts to be filled at meetings of the Council of Ministers and the manner in which the power of the President of the Republic to make appointments may be delegated by him to be exercised on his behalf.

An Institutional Act shall determine the posts and positions other than those mentioned in the third paragraph for which, in view of their importance for the guarantee of rights and freedoms and the economic and social life of the Nation, the appointment power of the President of the Republic shall be exercised after public consultation with the competent standing committee of each House. The President may not proceed to the appointment where the number of votes obtained by the addition of negative votes in each committee represents at least three-fifth of the votes cast within the two committees. A statute shall determine the competent standing committees having regard to the posts and positions concerned.

Article 14 

The President of the Republic shall accredit ambassadors and envoys extraordinary to foreign powers; foreign ambassadors and envoys extraordinary shall be accredited to him.

Article 15 

The President of the Republic shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He shall preside over the higher national defense councils and committees.

Article 16 

Where the institutions of the Republic, the independence of the Nation, the integrity of its territory or the fulfilment of its international commitments are under serious and immediate threat, and where the proper functioning of the constitutional public authorities is interrupted, the President of the Republic shall take measures required by these circumstances, after formally consulting the Prime Minister, the Presidents of the Houses of Parliament and the Constitutional Council.

He shall address the Nation and inform it of such measures.

The measures shall be designed to provide the constitutional public authorities as swiftly as possible, with the means to carry out their duties. The Constitutional Council shall be consulted with regard to such measures.

Parliament shall sit as of right.

The National Assembly shall not be dissolved during the exercise of such emergency powers.

After the emergency powers have been exercised for thirty days, a reference may be made to the Constitutional Council by the President of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, sixty Members of the National Assembly or sixty Senators in order to determine if the conditions defined in the first paragraph still exist. The Council shall make its position known in a public statement as soon as possible. It shall proceed to this examination as of right and make its position known in the same manner after the emergency powers have been exercised for sixty days, and at any time thereafter.[6]

Article 17 

The President of the Republic is vested with the power to grant pardons in individual cases.[7]

Article 18 

The President of the Republic shall communicate with the two Houses of Parliament by messages which he shall cause to be read aloud and which shall not give rise to any debate.

He may address Parliament convened in Congress for this purpose. His declaration may in his absence give rise to a debate which may not be followed by a vote.

When not in session, the Houses of Parliament shall be convened especially for this purpose.[8]

Article 19 

Instruments of the President of the Republic, other than those provided for under Articles 8 (paragraph one), 11, 12, 16, 18, 54, 56 and 61, shall be countersigned by the Prime Minister and, where required, by the ministers concerned.

Title III  The Government

Article 20 

The Government shall determine and conduct the policy of the Nation.

It shall have at its disposal the civil service and the armed forces.

It shall be accountable to Parliament in accordance with the terms and procedures set out in Articles 49 and 50.

Article 21 

The Prime Minister shall direct the actions of the Government. He shall be responsible for national defense. He shall ensure the implementation of legislation. Subject to Article 13, he shall have power to make regulations and shall make appointments to civil and military posts.

He may delegate certain of his powers to Ministers.

He shall deputize, if the case arises, for the President of the Republic as chairman of the councils and committees referred to in Article 15.

He may, in exceptional cases, deputize for him as chairman of a meeting of the Council of Ministers by virtue of an express delegation of powers for a specific agenda.

Article 22 

Instruments of the Prime Minister shall be countersigned, where required, by the ministers responsible for their implementation.

Article 23 

Membership of the Government shall be incompatible with the holding of any Parliamentary office, any position of professional representation at national level, any public employment or any professional activity.

An Institutional Act shall determine the manner in which the holders of such offices, positions or employment shall be replaced.

The replacement of Members of Parliament shall take place in accordance with the provisions of Article 25.

Title IV  Parliament

Article 24 

Parliament shall enact the statutes. It shall control the action of the Government. It shall evaluate the public policies.

Parliament shall comprise the National Assembly and the Senate.

Members of the National Assembly whose number may not exceed five hundred and seventy-seven shall be elected by direct suffrage.

The Senate which shall not have more than three hundred and forty-eight members shall be elected by indirect suffrage. The Senate shall ensure the representation of the territorial communities of the Republic.

French Nationals living abroad shall be represented in the National Assembly and the Senate.[9]

Article 25 

An Institutional Act shall determine the term for which each House is elected, the number of its members, their allowances, the conditions of eligibility and the terms of disqualifications and of incompatibilities applying to members.

It shall likewise determine the manner of election of those persons called upon to replace Members of the National Assembly or Senators whose seats have become vacant, until the general or partial renewal by election of the House in which they sat.

Article 25 [10]

An Institutional Act shall determine the term for which each House is elected, the number of its members, their allowances, the conditions of eligibility and the terms of disqualifications and incompatibilities applying to members.

It shall likewise determine the manner of election of those persons called upon to replace Members of the National Assembly or Senators whose seats have become vacant until the general or partial renewal by election of the House in which they sat or to replace them temporarily in case they accept Government functions.

An independent commission whose composition, organization and rules of procedure shall be determined by statute shall publicly review the Government proposals and Private Members' Bills defining the constituency boundaries for the election of the Members of the National Assembly or modifying the distribution of seats in the National Assembly or the Senate.

Article 26 

No Member of Parliament shall be prosecuted, investigated, arrested, detained or tried in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of his official duties.

No Member of Parliament shall be arrested for a serious crime or other major offense, nor shall he be subjected to any other custodial or semi-custodial measure, without the authorization of the Bureau of the House of which he is a member. Such authorization shall not be required in the case of a serious crime or other major offense committed flagrante delicto or when a conviction has become final.

The detention, subjecting to custodial or semi-custodial measures, or prosecution of a Member of Parliament shall be suspended for the duration of the session if the House of which he is a member so requires.

The House concerned shall meet as of right for additional sittings in order to permit the application of the foregoing paragraph should circumstances so require.

Article 27 

No Member shall be elected with any binding mandate.

Members' right to vote shall be exercised in person.

An Institutional Act may, in exceptional cases, authorize voting by proxy. In that event, no member shall be given more than one proxy.

Article 28 

Parliament shall sit as of right in one ordinary session which shall start on the first working day of October and shall end on the last working day of June.

The number of days for which each House may sit during the ordinary session shall not exceed one hundred and twenty. The number of sitting weeks shall be determined by each House.

The Prime Minister, after consulting the President of the House concerned or the majority of the members of each House may decide that said House shall meet for additional sitting days.

The days and hours of sittings shall be determined by the rules of procedure of each House.

Article 29 

Parliament shall meet in extraordinary session, at the request of the Prime Minister or of the majority of the members of the National Assembly, to debate a specific agenda.

Where an extraordinary session is held at the request of members of the National Assembly, this session shall be closed by decree once all the items on the agenda for which Parliament was convened have been dealt with, or not later than twelve days after its first sitting, whichever shall be the earlier.

The Prime Minister alone may request a new session before the end of the month following the decree closing an extraordinary session.

Article 30 

Except where Parliament sits as of right, extraordinary sessions shall be opened and closed by a Decree of the President of the Republic.

Article 31 

Members of the Government shall have access to both Houses. They shall address either House whenever they so request.

They may be assisted by commissaires du Gouvernement.

Article 32 

The President of the National Assembly shall be elected for the life of a Parliament. The President of the Senate shall be elected each time elections are held for partial renewal of the Senate.

Article 33 

The sittings of the two Houses shall be public. A verbatim report of the debates shall be published in the Journal officiel.

Each House may sit in camera at the request of the Prime Minister or of one-tenth of its members.

Title V  On Relations between Parliament and the Government

Article 34 

Statutes shall determine the rules concerning:

  • civic rights and the fundamental guarantees granted to citizens for the exercise of their civil liberties; the freedom, pluralism and independence of the media; the obligations imposed for the purposes of national defense upon the person and property of citizens;

  • nationality, the status and capacity of persons, matrimonial property systems, inheritance and gifts;

  • the determination of serious crimes and other major offences and the penalties they carry; criminal procedure; amnesty; the setting up of new categories of courts and the status of members of the Judiciary;

  • the base, rates and methods of collection of all types of taxes; the issuing of currency.

Statutes shall also determine the rules governing:

  • the system for electing members of Parliament, the local assemblies and the instances representing French nationals living abroad as well as the conditions for the exercise of elective offices and positions of members of the Deliberative Assemblies of the territorial communities;

  • the setting up of categories of public legal entities;

  • the fundamental guarantees granted to civil servants and members of the Armed Forces;

  • nationalization of companies and the transfer of ownership of companies from the public to the private sector.

Statutes shall also lay down the basic principles of:

  • the general organization of national defense;

  • the self-government of territorial communities, their powers and revenue;

  • education;

  • the preservation of the environment;

  • systems of ownership, property rights and civil and commercial obligations;

  • Employment law, Trade Union law and Social Security.

Finance Acts shall determine the revenue and expenditure of the State in the conditions and with the reservations provided for by an Institutional Act.

Social Security Financing Acts shall lay down the general conditions for the financial equilibrium thereof, and taking into account forecasted revenue, shall determine expenditure targets in the conditions and with the reservations provided for by an Institutional Act.

Program Acts shall determine the objectives of action of the State.

The targets of medium-term fiscal planning shall be determined by Program Acts. They shall implement the objective of balanced accounts in the public administration.

The provisions of this Article may be further specified and completed by an Institutional Act.[11]

Article 34-1 [12]

The Houses of Parliament may vote resolutions in the conditions determined by Institutional Act.

If the Government considers that the adoption of a resolution or its rejection is likely to raise the issue of its accountability to Parliament or contains injunctions which are directed against it the relevant proposal shall be inadmissible and shall not be included in the agenda of the House.

Article 35 

A declaration of war shall be authorized by Parliament.

The Government shall inform Parliament of its decision to deploy the Armed Forces abroad at the latest three days after the start of the deployment. It shall specify the objectives pursued. The information may give rise to a debate which may not be followed by a vote.

If the duration of the deployment exceeds four months the Government shall submits its extension to the authorization of Parliament. It may ask the National Assembly to adopt the final decision.

If Parliament is not in session at the end of the four-months period, it shall pronounce itself at the beginning of the following session.[13]

Article 36 

A state of siege shall be decreed in the Council of Ministers.

The extension thereof after a period of twelve days may be authorized solely by Parliament.

Article 37 

Matters other than those coming under the scope of statute law shall be matters for regulation.

Provisions of statutory origin enacted in such matters may be amended by decree issued after consultation with the Conseil d'Etat. Any such provisions passed after the coming into force of the Constitution shall be amended by decree only if the Constitutional Council has found that they are matters for regulation as defined in the foregoing paragraph.

Article 37-1 

Statutes and regulations may contain provisions enacted on an experimental basis for limited purposes and duration.

Article 38 

In order to implement its program, the Government may ask Parliament for authorization, for a limited period, to take measures by Ordinance that are normally the preserve of statute law.

Ordinances shall be issued in the Council of Ministers, after consultation with the Conseil d'Etat. They shall come into force upon publication, but shall lapse in the event of failure to table before Parliament the Bill to ratify them by the date set by the Enabling Act. They may only be ratified expressly.[14]

At the end of the period referred to in the first paragraph hereinabove Ordinances may be amended solely by an Act of Parliament in those areas governed by statute law.

Article 39 

Both the Prime Minister and Members of Parliament shall have the right to initiate legislation.

Government Bills shall be discussed in the Council of Ministers after consultation with the Conseil d'Etat and shall be tabled in one or other of the two Houses. Finance Bills and Social Security Financing Bills shall be tabled first before the National Assembly. Without prejudice to the first paragraph of article 44, Bills primarily dealing with the organisation of territorial communities and Bills relating to bodies representing French Nationals living abroad shall be tabled first in the Senate.

Article 39 [15]

Both the Prime Minister and Members of Parliament shall have the right to initiate legislation.

Government Bills shall be discussed in the Council of Ministers after consultation with the Conseil d'Etat and shall be tabled in one or other of the two Houses. Finance Bills and Social Security Financing Bills shall be tabled first before the National Assembly. Without prejudice to the first paragraph of Article 44, Bills primarily dealing with the organization of territorial communities shall be tabled first in the Senate.

The introduction of Government Bills in the National Assembly or the Senate shall be subject to the conditions determined by an Institutional Act.

Government Bills may not be included in the agenda if the Conference of Presidents of the first House to which they are submitted states that the rules established by the Institutional Act have not been respected. In the event of disagreement between the Conference of Presidents and the Government, the President of the House concerned or the Prime Minister may refer the matter to the Constitutional Council which shall give its ruling within eight days.

In the conditions provided for by statute, the President of a House of Parliament may submit a Bill introduced by a Member of the House before its examination in the committee to a review by the Conseil d'Etat, unless the member concerned objects.

Article 40 

Private Members' Bills and amendments introduced by Members of Parliament shall not be admissible where their enactment would result in either a diminution of public revenue or the creation or increase of any public expenditure.

Article 41 

If, during the legislative process, it appears that a Private Member's Bill or amendment is not a matter for statute or is contrary to a delegation granted under article 38, the Government may argue that it is inadmissible.

In the event of disagreement between the Government and the President of the House concerned, the Constitutional Council, at the request of one or the other, shall give its ruling within eight days.

Article 41 [16]

If, during the legislative process, it appears that a Private Member's Bill or amendment is not a matter for statute or is contrary to a delegation granted under Article 38, the Government or the President of the House to which it has been submitted may invoke its inadmissibility.

In the event of disagreement between the Government and the President of the House concerned, the Constitutional Council, at the request of one or the other, shall give its ruling within eight days.

Article 42 

Government Bills shall be debated in the form in which they are tabled before the first House to which they are submitted.

The House asked to debate upon a text passed by the other House shall debate upon the text transmitted to it.

Article 42 [17]

Government Bills and Private Members' Bills shall be debated in the plenary meeting in the form in which they are adopted by the committee to which they are submitted in accordance with Article 43 or, if such referral does not take place, in the form in which they are submitted to the House concerned.

However, Constitutional Reform Bills, Finance Bills and Social Security Financing Bills shall be debated in the first reading of the plenary meeting of the first House to which they are submitted in the form in which they are tabled by the Government and, in subsequent readings, in the form in which they are transmitted by the other House.

The debate of a Government Bill or a Private Members' Bill in a plenary meeting may not take place in the first House to which it is submitted before the end of a period of six weeks following its introduction. In the second House to which the Bill is submitted the debate may not take place before the end of a period of four weeks following its transmission.

The preceding paragraph shall not apply if the accelerated procedure has been initiated in accordance with the requirements defined in Article 45. Nor shall it apply to Finance Bills, Social Security Financing Bills, and Bills dealing with crisis situations.

Article 43 [18]

Government and Private Members' Bills shall be referred for consideration to one of the standing committees whose number shall be limited to eight in each House.

At the request of the Government or of the House before which such Bills are tabled Government Bills and Private Members' Bills shall be referred for consideration to committees specially set up for this purpose.

Article 44 

Members of Parliament and the Government shall have the right of amendment.

Once debate has begun, the Government may object to the consideration of any amendment which has not previously been referred to committee.

If the Government so requests, the House before which the Bill is tabled shall proceed to a single vote on all or part of the text under debate, on the sole basis of the amendments proposed or accepted by the Government.

Article 44 [19]

Members of Parliament and the Government shall have the right of amendment. The right shall be exercised in the plenary meeting or in the committee in accordance with the conditions fixed in the rules of procedure of both Houses, within the framework established by Institutional Act.

Once debate has begun, the Government may object to the consideration of any amendment which has not previously been referred to committee.

If the Government so requests, the House before which the Bill is tabled shall proceed to a single vote on all or part of the text under debate, on the sole basis of the amendments proposed or accepted by the Government.

Article 45 

Every Government or Private Member's Bill shall be considered successively in the two Houses of Parliament with a view to the passing of an identical text.

If, as a result of a failure to agree by the two Houses, it has proved impossible to pass a Government or Private Member's Bill after two readings by each House or, if the Government has declared the matter to be one of urgency, after a single reading of such Bill by each House, the Prime Minister may convene a joint committee, composed of an equal number of members from each House, to propose a text on the provisions still under debate.

The text drafted by the joint committee may be submitted by the Government to both Houses for approval. No amendment shall be admissible without the consent of the Government.

If the joint committee fails to agree on a common text, or if the text is not passed as provided in the foregoing paragraph, the Government may, after a further reading by the National Assembly and by the Senate, ask the National Assembly to reach a final decision. In such an event, the National Assembly may reconsider either the text drafted by the joint committee, or the last text passed by itself, as modified, as the case may be, by any amendment(s) passed by the Senate.

Article 45 [20]

Every Government or Private Member's Bill shall be considered successively in the two Houses of Parliament with a view to the passing of an identical text. Without prejudice to the application of Articles 40 and 41 notwithstanding, each amendment is admissible at the first reading if it is related, even indirectly, to the text which has been submitted or transmitted to the House.

If, as a result of a failure to agree by the two Houses, it has proved impossible to pass a Government or Private Member's Bill after two readings by each House or, if the Government has decided to initiate the accelerated procedure and the decision has not been jointly opposed by the Conferences of the Presidents, after a single reading of such Bill by each House, the Prime Minister or, for a Private Members' Bill, the Presidents of both Houses acting jointly may convene a joint committee, composed of an equal number of members from each House, to propose a text on the provisions still under debate.

The text drafted by the joint committee may be submitted by the Government to both Houses for approval. No amendment shall be admissible without the consent of the Government.

If the joint committee fails to agree on a common text, or if the text is not passed as provided in the foregoing paragraph, the Government may, after a further reading by the National Assembly and by the Senate, ask the National Assembly to reach a final decision. In such an event, the National Assembly may reconsider either the text drafted by the joint committee, or the last text passed by itself, as modified, as the case may be, by any amendment(s) passed by the Senate.

Article 46 

Acts of Parliament which are defined by the Constitution as being Institutional Acts shall be enacted and amended as provided for hereinafter.

A Government or Private Member's Bill shall not be debated and put to the vote in the House before which it was first tabled until fifteen days have elapsed since the tabling thereof.

The procedure set out in article 45 shall apply. Nevertheless, failing agreement between the two Houses, the text may be passed by the National Assembly on a final reading only by an absolute majority of the Members thereof.

Institutional Acts relating to the Senate must be passed in identical terms by the two Houses.

Institutional Acts shall not be promulgated until the Constitutional Council has declared their conformity with the Constitution.

Article 46 [21]

Acts of Parliament which are defined by the Constitution as being Institutional Acts shall be enacted and amended as provided for hereinafter.

A Government or Private Member's Bill shall not be debated and put to the vote in the Houses of Parliament at first reading before the time limits provided for in the third paragraph of article 42 have lapsed. However, if the accelerated procedure has been initiated in the conditions defined in Article 45, the Government Bill or the Private Members' Bill may not be debated in the first House to which it has been submitted before the end of a period of fifteen days following its introduction.

The procedure set out in Article 45 shall apply. Nevertheless, failing agreement between the two Houses, the text may be passed by the National Assembly on a final reading only by an absolute majority of the Members thereof.

Institutional Acts relating to the Senate must be passed in identical terms by the two Houses.

Institutional Acts shall not be promulgated until the Constitutional Council has declared their conformity with the Constitution.

Article 47 

Parliament shall pass Finance Bills in the manner provided for by an Institutional Act.

Should the National Assembly fail to reach a decision on first reading within forty days following the tabling of a Bill, the Government shall refer the Bill to the Senate, which shall make its decision known within fifteen days. The procedure set out in Article 45 shall then apply.

Should Parliament fail to reach a decision within seventy days, the provisions of the Bill may be brought into force by Ordinance.

Should the Finance Bill setting out revenue and expenditure for a financial year not be tabled in time for promulgation before the beginning of that year, the Government shall as a matter of urgency ask Parliament for authorization to collect taxes and shall make available by decree the funds needed to meet commitments already voted for.

The time limits set by this Article shall be suspended when Parliament is not in session.

Article 47-1 

Parliament shall pass Social Security Financing Bills in the manner provided by an Institutional Act.

Should the National Assembly fail to reach a decision on first reading within twenty days of the tabling of a Bill, the Government shall refer the Bill to the Senate, which shall make its decision known within fifteen days. The procedure set out in Article 45 shall then apply.

Should Parliament fail to reach a decision within fifty days, the provisions of the Bill may be implemented by Ordinance.

The time limits set by this Article shall be suspended when Parliament is not in session and, as regards each House, during the weeks when it has decided not to sit in accordance with the second paragraph of Article 28.

Article 47-2 [22]

The Cour des Comptes shall assist Parliament in the control of the action of the Government. It shall assist Parliament and the Government in monitoring the implementation of Finance Acts and the application of the Social Security Financing Acts as well as in evaluating public policies. Through its public reports it shall contribute to the information of the citizens.

The accounts of the public administration shall be well-ordered and accurate. They shall give a true and fair account of the results of their management, their assets and their financial situation.

Article 48 

Without prejudice to the application of the last three paragraphs of article 28, priority shall be given on the agendas of the Houses, and in the order determined by the Government, to debating Government Bills and Private Members' Bills accepted by the Government.

At one sitting a week at least priority shall be given to questions from Members of Parliament and to answers from the Government.

At one sitting a month priority shall be given to the agenda determined by each House.

Article 48 [23]

Without prejudice to the application of the last three paragraphs of Article 28, the agenda shall be determined by each House.

During two of every four session weeks priority shall be given, in the order determined by the Government, to the examination of texts and to debates which the Government asks to be included in the agenda.

In addition, priority shall be given, at the request of the Government, to the examination of Finance Bills, Social Security Financing Bills and, subject to the provisions of the following paragraph, Bills which have been transmitted by the other House at least six weeks ago, Bills dealing with crisis situations and the requests for authorization referred to in Article 35.

During one of every four session weeks priority shall be given, in the order determined by each House, to the control of the action of the Government and the evaluation of public policies.

One session day per month shall be set aside for an agenda determined by each House upon the initiative of the opposition parties and the minority groups in the House concerned.

At one sitting a week at least, including the extraordinary sessions provide for in Article 29, priority shall be given to questions from Members of Parliament and to answers from the Government.

Article 49 

The Prime Minister, after deliberation by the Council of Ministers, may make the Government's program or possibly a general policy statement an issue of a vote of confidence before the National Assembly.

The National Assembly may call the Government to account by passing a resolution of no-confidence. Such a resolution shall not be admissible unless it is signed by at least one tenth of the members of the National Assembly. Voting may not take place within forty-eight hours after the resolution has been tabled. Solely votes cast in favor of the no-confidence resolution shall be counted and the latter shall not be passed unless it secures a majority of the Members of the House. Except as provided for in the following paragraph, no Member shall sign more than three resolutions of no-confidence during a single ordinary session and no more than one during a single extraordinary session.

The Prime Minister may, after deliberation by the Council of Ministers, make the passing of a Bill an issue of a vote of confidence before the National Assembly. In that event, the Bill shall be considered passed unless a resolution of no-confidence, tabled within the subsequent twenty-four hours, is carried as provided for in the foregoing paragraph.

The Prime Minister may ask the Senate to approve a statement of general policy.

Article 49 [24]

The Prime Minister, after deliberation by the Council of Ministers, shall make the Government's program or possibly a general policy statement an issue of a vote of confidence before the National Assembly.

The National Assembly may call the Government to account by passing a resolution of no-confidence. Such a resolution shall not be admissible unless it is signed by at least one tenth of the members of the National Assembly. Voting may not take place within forty-eight hours after the resolution has been tabled. Solely votes cast in favor of the no-confidence resolution shall be counted and the latter shall not be passed unless it secures a majority of the Members of the House. Except as provided for in the following paragraph, no Member shall sign more than three resolutions of no-confidence during a single ordinary session and no more than one during a single extraordinary session.

The Prime Minister may, after deliberation by the Council of Ministers, make the passing of a Finance Bill or a Social Security Financing Bill an issue of a vote of confidence before the National Assembly. In that event, the Bill shall be considered passed unless a resolution of no-confidence, tabled within the subsequent twenty-four hours, is carried as provided for in the foregoing paragraph. In addition, the Prime Minister may use this procedure for one other Government Bill or Private Members' Bill per session.

The Prime Minister may ask the Senate to approve a statement of general policy.

Article 50 

When the National Assembly passes a resolution of no-confidence, or when it fails to endorse the Government program or general policy statement, the Prime Minister shall tender the resignation of the Government to the President of the Republic.

Article 50-1 [25]

The Government, on its own initiative or at the request of a parliamentary group within the meaning of Article 51-1, may deliver in either of the two Houses a policy statement which shall give rise to a debate and may, if it so decides, be followed by a vote which shall not raise the issue of its accountability to Parliament.

Article 51 

The closing of ordinary or extraordinary sessions shall be automatically postponed in order to permit the application of Article 49, if the case arises. Additional sittings shall be held automatically for the same purpose.

Article 51-1 [26]

The rules of procedure of each House shall determine the rights of the parliamentary groups established in it. It shall grant specific rights to the opposition groups and the minority groups of the House concerned.

Article 51-2 [27]

For the execution of the monitoring and evaluation missions defined in the first paragraph of Article 24, committees of enquiry may be created within each House in order to gather information in the conditions determined by statute.

A statute shall determine the rules for their organization and proceeding. The conditions for their creation shall be determined by the rules of procedure of each House.

Title VI  On Treaties and International Agreements

Article 52 

The President of the Republic shall negotiate and ratify treaties.

He shall be informed of any negotiations for the conclusion of an international agreement not subject to ratification.

Article 53 

Peace Treaties, Trade agreements, treaties or agreements relating to international organization, those committing the finances of the State, those modifying provisions which are the preserve of statute law, those relating to the status of persons, and those involving the ceding, exchanging or acquiring of territory, may be ratified or approved only by an Act of Parliament.

They shall not take effect until such ratification or approval has been secured.

No ceding, exchanging or acquiring of territory shall be valid without the consent of the population concerned.

Article 53-1 

The Republic may enter into agreements with European States which are bound by undertakings identical with its own in matters of asylum and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, for the purpose of determining their respective jurisdiction as regards requests for asylum submitted to them.

However, even if the request does not fall within their jurisdiction under the terms of such agreements, the authorities of the Republic shall remain empowered to grant asylum to any Foreigner who is persecuted for his action in pursuit of freedom or who seeks the protection of France on other grounds.

Article 53-2 

The Republic may recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court as provided for by the Treaty signed on 18 July 1998.

Article 54 

If the Constitutional Council, on a referral from the President of the Republic, from the Prime Minister, from the President of one or the other Houses, or from sixty Members of the National Assembly or sixty Senators, has held that an international undertaking contains a clause contrary to the Constitution, authorization to ratify or approve the international undertaking involved may be given only after amending the Constitution.

Article 55 

Treaties or agreements duly ratified or approved shall, upon publication, prevail over Acts of Parliament, subject, with respect to each agreement or treaty, to its application by the other party.

Title VII  The Constitutional Council

Article 56 

The Constitutional Council shall comprise nine members, each of whom shall hold office for a non-renewable term of nine years. One third of the membership of the Constitutional Council shall be renewed every three years. Three of its members shall be appointed by the President of the Republic, three by the President of the National Assembly and three by the President of the Senate.

In addition to the nine members provided for above, former Presidents of the Republic shall be ex officio life members of the Constitutional Council.

The President shall be appointed by the President of the Republic. He shall have a casting vote in the event of a tie.

Article 56 [28]

The Constitutional Council shall comprise nine members, each of whom shall hold office for a non-renewable term of nine years. One third of the membership of the Constitutional Council shall be renewed every three years. Three of its members shall be appointed by the President of the Republic, three by the President of the National Assembly and three by the President of the Senate. The procedure provided for in the last paragraph of Article 13 shall apply to these appointments. The appointments made by the President of each House are only subject to consultation with the competent standing committee of the House concerned.

In addition to the nine members provided for above, former Presidents of the Republic shall be ex officio life members of the Constitutional Council.

The President shall be appointed by the President of the Republic. He shall have a casting vote in the event of a tie.

Article 57 

The office of member of the Constitutional Council shall be incompatible with that of Minister or Member of the Houses of Parliament. Other incompatibilities shall be determined by an Institutional Act.

Article 58 

The Constitutional Council shall ensure the proper conduct of the election of the President of the Republic.

It shall examine complaints and shall proclaim the results of the vote.

Article 59 

The Constitutional Council shall rule on the proper conduct of the election of Members of the National Assembly and Senators in disputed cases.

Article 60 

The Constitutional Council shall ensure the proper conduct of referendum proceedings as provided for in Articles 11 and 89 and in Title XV and shall proclaim the results of the referendum.

Article 61 

Institutional Acts, before their promulgation, the Private Members' Bills mentioned in Article 11 before they are submitted to a referendum, and the rules of procedure of the House of Parliament shall, before coming into force, be referred to the Constitutional Council, which shall rule on their conformity with the Constitution.[29]

To the same end, Acts of Parliament may be referred to the Constitutional Council, before their promulgation, by the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the President of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, sixty Members of the National Assembly or sixty Senators.

In the cases provided for in the two foregoing paragraphs, the Constitutional Council must deliver its ruling within one month. However, at the request of the Government, in cases of urgency, this period shall be reduced to eight days.

In these same cases, referral to the Constitutional Council shall suspend the time allotted for promulgation.

Article 61-1 [30]

Where it is alleged in a pending court case that a statutory provision violates the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, the matter may be referred to the Constitutional Council by the Conseil d'Etat or the Cour de cassation which decide within a fixed delay.

Article 62 

A provision declared unconstitutional on the basis of Article 61 shall be neither promulgated nor implemented.

A provision declared unconstitutional on the basis of Article 61-1 shall be abrogated from the date of publication of the decision of the Constitutional Council or from a later date determined in the decision. The Constitutional Council determines the conditions and the limits within which the effects that the provision has produced may be corrected.[31]

No appeal shall lie from the decisions of the Constitutional Council. They shall be binding on public authorities and on all administrative authorities and all courts.

Article 63 

An Institutional Act shall determine the rules of organization and operation of the Constitutional Council, the procedure to be followed before it and, in particular, the time limits allotted for referring disputes to it.

Title VIII  On Judicial Authority

Article 64 

The President of the Republic shall be the guarantor of the independence of the Judicial Authority.

He shall be assisted by the High Council of the Judiciary.

An Institutional Act shall determine the status of members of the Judiciary.

Judges shall be irremovable from office.

Article 65 

The High Council of the Judiciary shall be presided over by the President of the Republic. The Minister of Justice shall be its ex officio Vice-president. He may deputize for the President of the Republic.

The High Council of the Judiciary shall consist of two sections, one with jurisdiction over judges, the other over public prosecutors.

The section with jurisdiction over judges shall comprise, in addition to the President of the Republic and the Minister of Justice, five judges and one public prosecutor, one Conseiller d'Etat appointed by the Conseil d'Etat, and three prominent citizens who are not members either of Parliament or of the Judiciary, appointed respectively by the President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate.

The section with jurisdiction over public prosecutors shall comprise, in addition to the President of the Republic and the Minister of Justice, five public prosecutors and one judge, and the Conseiller d'Etat together with the three prominent citizens referred to in the preceding paragraph.

The section of the High Council of the Judiciary with jurisdiction over judges shall make recommendations for the appointment of judges to the Cour de cassation, the Chief Presidents of Courts of Appeal and the Presidents of the Tribunaux de grande instance. Other judges shall be appointed after consultation with this section.

This section shall act as disciplinary tribunal for judges. When acting in such capacity, it shall be presided over by the Chief President of the Cour de cassation.

The section of the High Council of the Judiciary with jurisdiction over public prosecutors shall give its opinion on the appointment of public prosecutors, with the exception of posts to be filled at meetings of the Council of Ministers.

It shall give its opinion on disciplinary measures regarding public prosecutors. When acting in such capacity, it shall be presided over by the Chief Public Prosecutor at the Cour de cassation.

An Institutional Act shall determine the manner in which this article is to be implemented.

Article 65 [32]

The High Council of the Judiciary shall consist of a section with jurisdiction over judges and a section with jurisdiction over public prosecutors.

The section with jurisdiction over judges shall be presided over by the First President of the Cour de cassation. In addition it shall comprise five judges and one public prosecutor, one Conseiller d'Etat appointed by the Conseil d'Etat, one attorney at law and six prominent and qualified citizens who are not members either of Parliament or of the Judiciary or of the administrative law courts. The President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate designate each two qualified citizens. The procedure provided for in the last paragraph of Article 13 shall apply to the appointments of qualified citizens. The appointments made by the President of each House are only subject to consultation with the competent standing committee of the House concerned.

The section with jurisdiction over public prosecutors shall be presided over by Chief Public Prosecutor at the Cour de cassation. In addition, it shall comprise five public prosecutors and one judge, as well as the Conseiller d'Etat, the attorney at law and the six prominent and qualified citizens referred to in the second paragraph.

The section of the High Council of the Judiciary with jurisdiction over judges shall make recommendations for the appointment of judges to the Cour de cassation, the Chief Presidents of Courts of Appeal and the Presidents of the Tribunaux de grande instance. Other judges shall be appointed after consultation with this section.

The section of the High Council of the Judiciary with jurisdiction over public prosecutors shall give its opinion on the appointments which concern public prosecutors.

The section of the High Council of the Judiciary with jurisdiction over judges shall act as disciplinary tribunal for judges. When acting in such capacity, it shall comprise, in addition to the members referred to in the second paragraph, the judge who is a member of the section of the High Council of the Judiciary with jurisdiction over public prosecutors.

The section of the High Council of the Judiciary with jurisdiction over public prosecutors shall give its opinion on disciplinary measures regarding the latter. When acting in such capacity, it shall comprise, in addition to the members referred to in the third paragraph, the public prosecutor who is a member of the section of the High Council of the Judiciary with jurisdiction over judges.

The High Council of the Judiciary shall convene in plenary meeting in order to respond to the requests for advice put to it by the President of the Republic in accordance with Article 64. In the same composition it gives its opinion on questions relating to the rules of conduct for judges and prosecutors and any question relating to the functioning of the judiciary submitted to it by the Minister of Justice. The plenary meeting shall comprise three of the five judges mentioned in the second paragraph, three of five prosecutors mentioned in the third paragraph, as well as the Conseiller d'Etat, the attorney at law and the six prominent and qualified citizens mentioned in the second paragraph. It shall be presided over by the First President of the Cour de cassation who may be deputized by the Chief Prosecutor at the Cour.

The Minister of Justice may take part in the meetings of the sections of the High Council of the Judiciary, except those concerning disciplinary measures.

A party may submit an application to the High Council of the Judiciary in the conditions determined by Institutional Act.

An Institutional Act shall determine the modalities of application of the present Article.

Article 66 

No one shall be arbitrarily detained.

The Judicial Authority, guardian of the freedom of the individual, shall ensure compliance with this principle in the conditions laid down by statute.

Article 66-1 [33]

No one shall be sentenced to death.

Title IX  The High Court[34]

Article 67 

The President of the Republic shall incur no liability by reason of acts carried out in his official capacity, subject to the provisions of Articles 53-2 and 68 hereof.

Throughout his term of office the President shall not be required to testify before any French Court of law or Administrative authority and shall not be the object of any civil proceedings, nor of any preferring of charges, prosecution or investigatory measures. All limitation periods shall be suspended for the duration of said term of office.

All actions and proceedings thus stayed may be reactivated or brought against the President one month after the end of his term of office.

Article 68 

The President of the Republic shall not be removed from office during the term thereof on any grounds other than a breach of his duties patently incompatible with his continuing in office. Such removal from office shall be proclaimed by Parliament sitting as the High Court.

The proposal to convene the High Court adopted by one or other of the Houses of Parliament shall be immediately transmitted to the other House which shall make its decision known within fifteen days of receipt thereof.

The High Court shall be presided over by the President of the National Assembly. It shall give its ruling as to the removal from office of the President, by secret ballot, within one month. Its decision shall have immediate effect.

Rulings given hereunder shall require a majority of two thirds of the members of the House involved or of the High Court. No proxy voting shall be allowed. Only votes in favor of the removal from office or the convening of the High Court shall be counted.

An Institutional Act shall determine the conditions for the application hereof.

Title X  On the Criminal Liability of the Government

Article 68-1 

Members of the Government shall be criminally liable for acts performed in the holding of their office and classified as serious crimes or other major offences at the time they were committed.

They shall be tried by the Court of Justice of the Republic.

The Court of Justice of the Republic shall be bound by such definition of serious crimes and other major offences and such determination of penalties as are laid down by statute.

Article 68-2 

The Court of Justice of the Republic shall consist of fifteen members: twelve Members of Parliament, elected in equal number from among their ranks by the National Assembly and the Senate after each general or partial renewal by election of these Houses, and three judges of the Cour de cassation, one of whom shall preside over the Court of Justice of the Republic.

Any person claiming to be a victim of a serious crime or other major offense committed by a member of the Government in the holding of his office may lodge a complaint with a petitions committee.

This committee shall order the case to be either closed or forwarded to the Chief Public Prosecutor at the Cour de cassation for referral to the Court of Justice of the Republic.

The Chief Public prosecutor at the Cour de cassation may also make a referral ex officio to the Court of Justice of the Republic with the assent of the petitions committee. An Institutional Act shall determine the manner in which this Article is to be implemented.

Article 68-3 

The provisions of this title shall apply to acts committed before its entry into force.

Title XI  The Economic, Social and Environmental Council[35]

Article 69 

The Economic and Social Council, on a referral from the Government, shall give its opinion on such Government Bills, draft Ordinances, draft Decrees, and Private Members' Bills as have been submitted to it.

A member of the Economic and Social Council may be designated by the Council to present, to the Houses of Parliament, the opinion of the Council on such drafts, Government or Private Members' Bills as have been submitted to it.

Article 69 

The Economic, Social and Environmental Council, on a referral from the Government, shall give its opinion on such Government Bills, draft Ordinances, draft Decrees, and Private Members' Bills as have been submitted to it.

A member of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council may be designated by the Council to present, to the Houses of Parliament, the opinion of the Council on such drafts, Government or Private Members' Bills as have been submitted to it.

The Economic, Social and Environmental Council may be petitioned in the conditions established by Institutional Act. After examination of the petition the Council shall inform the Government and Parliament of the measures it proposes to take in response to the petition.

Article 70 

The Economic, Social and Environmental Council may be consulted by the Government and Parliament on any economic, social or environmental issue. The Government may also consult it on its Bills setting the medium-term targets for fiscal planning. Any plan or Program Bill of an economic, social or environmental nature shall be submitted to it for its opinion.

Article 71 

The composition of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, whose membership may not exceed two hundred and thirty-three persons, and its rules of proceeding shall be determined by an Institutional Act.

Title XI bis  The Ombudsman (Défenseur des droits)[36]

Article 71-1 

The Ombudsman shall ensure due respect for the rights and freedoms by the State administration, the territorial communities, the public legal entities, and by any body charged with a public service mission, or in relation to which the Institutional Act confers competences upon him.

Any individual which alleges to have been violated in his rights by a public service or a body referred to in the first paragraph may refer the matter to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman may also investigate the matter ex officio.

An Institutional Act shall define the competences and the modalities for the intervention of the Ombudsman. It shall determine the conditions in which he may be assisted by a working party in the exercise of certain of his competences.

The Ombudsman shall be appointed by the President of the Republic for a non-renewable term of six years, following the application of the procedure referred to in the last paragraph of Article 13. His functions shall be incompatible with those of a Government member or a member of Parliament. The other incompatibilities shall be determined by Institutional Act.

The Ombudsman shall account for his activities to the President of the Republic and Parliament.

Title XII  On Territorial Communities

Article 72 

The territorial communities of the Republic shall be the Municipalities, the Departments, the Regions, the Special-Status communities and the Overseas Territorial communities to which Article 74 applies. Any other territorial community created, if need be, to replace one or more communities provided for by this paragraph shall be created by statute.

Territorial communities may take decisions in all matters arising under powers that can best be exercised at their level.

In the conditions provided for by statute, these communities shall be self-governing through elected councils and shall have power to make regulations for matters coming within their jurisdiction.

In the manner provided for by an Institutional Act, except where the essential conditions for the exercise of public freedoms or of a right guaranteed by the Constitution are affected, territorial communities or associations thereof may, where provision is made by statute or regulation, as the case may be, derogate on an experimental basis for limited purposes and duration from provisions laid down by statute or regulation governing the exercise of their powers.

No territorial community may exercise authority over another. However, where the exercising of a power requires the combined action of several territorial communities, one of those communities or one of their associations may be authorized by statute to organize such combined action.

In the territorial communities of the Republic, the State representative, representing each of the Members of the Government, shall be responsible for national interests, administrative supervision and compliance with the law.

Article 72-1 

The conditions in which voters in each territorial community may use their right of petition to ask for a matter within the powers of the community to be entered on the agenda of its Deliberative Assembly shall be determined by statute.

In the conditions determined by an Institutional Act, draft decisions or acts within the powers of a territorial community may, on the initiative of the latter, be submitted for a decision by voters of said community by means of a referendum.

When the creation of a special-status territorial community or modification of its organization are contemplated, a decision may be taken by statute to consult the voters registered in the relevant communities. Voters may also be consulted on changes to the boundaries of territorial communities in the conditions determined by statute.

Article 72-2 

Territorial communities shall enjoy revenue of which they may dispose freely in the conditions determined by statute.

They may receive all or part of the proceeds of taxes of all kinds. They may be authorised by statute to determine the basis of assessment and the rates thereof, within the limits set by such statutes.

Tax revenue and other own revenue of territorial communities shall, for each category of territorial community, represent a decisive share of their revenue. The conditions for the implementation of this rule shall be determined by an Institutional Act.

Whenever powers are transferred between central government and the territorial communities, revenue equivalent to that given over to the exercise of those powers shall also be transferred. Whenever the effect of newly created or extended powers is to increase the expenditure to be borne by territorial communities, revenue as determined by statute shall be allocated to said communities.

Equalization mechanisms intended to promote equality between territorial communities shall be provided for by statute.

Article 72-3 

The Republic shall recognize the overseas populations within the French people in a common ideal of liberty, equality and fraternity.

Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique, Réunion, Mayotte, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the Wallis and Futuna Islands and French Polynesia shall be governed by Article 73 as regards overseas departments and regions and for the territorial communities set up under the final paragraph of Article 73, and by Article 74 for the other communities.

The status of New Caledonia shall be governed by title XIII.

The legislative system and special organization of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories and of Clipperton shall be determined by statute.[37]

Article 72-4 

No change of status as provided for by Articles 73 and 74 with respect to the whole or part of any one of the communities to which the second paragraph of Article 72-3 applies, shall take place without the prior consent of voters in the relevant community or part of a community being sought in the manner provided for by the paragraph below. Such change of status shall be made by an Institutional Act.

The President of the Republic may, on a recommendation from the Government when Parliament is in session or on a joint motion of the two Houses, published in either case in the Journal officiel, decide to consult voters in an overseas territorial community on a question relating to its organization, its powers or its legislative system. Where the referendum concerns a change of status as provided for by the foregoing paragraph and is held in response to a recommendation by the Government, the Government shall make a statement before each House which shall be followed by debate.

Article 73 

In the overseas departments and regions, statutes and regulations shall be automatically applicable. They may be adapted in the light of the specific characteristics and constraints of such communities.

Those adaptations may be decided on by the communities in areas in which their powers are exercised if the relevant communities have been empowered to that end by statute.

By way of derogation from the first paragraph hereof and in order to take account of their specific features, communities to which this article applies may be empowered by statute to determine themselves the rules applicable in their territory in a limited number of matters that fall to be determined by statute.

These rules may not concern nationality, civic rights, the guarantees of civil liberties, the status and capacity of persons, the organization of justice, criminal law, criminal procedure, foreign policy, defense, public security and public order, currency, credit and exchange, or electoral law. This list may be clarified and amplified by an Institutional Act.

The two foregoing paragraphs shall not apply in the department and region of Réunion.

The powers to be conferred pursuant to the second and third paragraphs hereof shall be determined at the request of the relevant territorial community in the conditions and subject to the reservations provided for by an Institutional Act. They may not be conferred where the essential conditions for the exercise of civil liberties or of a right guaranteed by the Constitution are affected.

The setting up by statute of a territorial community to replace an overseas department and region or a single Deliberative Assembly for the two communities shall not be carried out unless the consent of the voters registered there has first been sought as provided by the second paragraph of article 72-4.

Article 73 [38]

In the overseas departments and regions, statutes and regulations shall be automatically applicable. They may be adapted in the light of the specific characteristics and constraints of such communities.

Those adaptations may be decided on by the communities in areas in which their powers are exercised if the relevant communities have been empowered to that end by statute or by decree, as the case may be.

By way of derogation from the first paragraph hereof and in order to take account of their specific features, communities to which this Article applies may be empowered by statute or by decree, as the case may be, to determine themselves the rules applicable in their territory in a limited number of matters that fall to be determined by statute or by decree.

These rules may not concern nationality, civic rights, the guarantees of civil liberties, the status and capacity of persons, the organization of justice, criminal law, criminal procedure, foreign policy, defense, public security and public order, currency, credit and exchange, or electoral law. This list may be clarified and amplified by an Institutional Act.

The two foregoing paragraphs shall not apply in the department and region of Réunion.

The powers to be conferred pursuant to the second and third paragraphs hereof shall be determined at the request of the relevant territorial community in the conditions and subject to the reservations provided for by an Institutional Act. They may not be conferred where the essential conditions for the exercise of civil liberties or of a right guaranteed by the Constitution are affected.

The setting up by statute of a territorial community to replace an overseas department and region or a single Deliberative Assembly for the two communities shall not be carried out unless the consent of the voters registered there has first been sought as provided by the second paragraph of Article 72-4.

Article 74 

The Overseas territorial communities to which this Article applies shall have a status reflecting their respective local interests within the Republic.

This status shall be determined by an Institutional Act, passed after consultation of the Deliberative Assembly, which shall specify:

  • the conditions in which statutes and regulations shall apply there;

  • the powers of the territorial community; subject to those already exercised by said community the transfer of central government powers may not involve any of the matters listed in paragraph four of Article 73, as specified and completed, if need be, by an Institutional Act;

  • the rules governing the organization and operation of the institutions of the territorial community and the electoral system for its Deliberative Assembly;

  • the conditions in which its institutions are consulted on Government or Private Members' Bills and draft Ordinances or draft Decrees containing provisions relating specifically to the community and to the ratification or approval of international undertakings entered into in matters within its powers.

The Institutional Act may also, for such territorial communities as are self-governing, determine the conditions in which:

  • the Conseil d'Etat shall exercise specific judicial review of certain categories of decisions taken by the Deliberative Assembly in matters which are within the powers vested in it by statute;

  • the Deliberative Assembly may amend a statute promulgated after the coming into effect of the new status of said territorial community where the Constitutional Council, acting in particular on a referral from the authorities of the territorial community, has found that statute law has intervened in a field within the powers of said Assembly;

  • measures justified by local needs may be taken by the territorial community in favor of its population as regards access to employment, the right of establishment for the exercise of a professional activity or the protection of land;

  • the community may, subject to review by the central government, participate in the exercise of the powers vested in it while showing due respect for the guaranties given throughout national territory for the exercising of civil liberties.

The other rules governing the specific organization of the territorial communities to which this Article applies shall be determined and amended by statute after consultation with their Deliberative Assembly.

Article 74-1 

In the Overseas territorial communities referred to by Article 74 and in New Caledonia, the Government may by way of ordinance, in matters which remain within its power, extend with any necessary adaptations the statutory provisions applying in mainland France or adapt the statutory provisions in force to the particular organization of the community in question, provided statute law has not expressly excluded the use of this procedure for the provisions involved.[39]

Such Ordinances shall be issued in the Council of Ministers after receiving the opinion of the relevant Deliberative Assemblies and the Conseil d'Etat. They shall come into force upon publication. They shall lapse if they are not ratified by Parliament within eighteen months of their publication.

Article 75 

Citizens of the Republic who do not have ordinary civil status, the sole status referred to in Article 34, shall retain their personal status until such time as they have renounced the same.

Article 75-1 

The regional languages are part of the national heritage of France.[40]

Title XIII  Transitional provisions pertaining to New Caledonia

Article 76 

The population of New Caledonia is called upon to vote by December 31, 1998 on the provisions of the agreement signed at Nouméa on May 5, 1998, published in the Journal officiel of the French Republic on May 27, 1998.

Persons satisfying the requirements laid down in Article 2 of Act No. 88-1028 of November 9, 1988 shall be eligible to take part in the vote.

The measures required to organize the voting process shall be taken by decree adopted after consultation with the Conseil d'Etat and discussion in the Council of Ministers.

Article 77 

After approval of the agreement by the vote provided for in Article 76, the Institutional Act passed after consultation with the Deliberative Assembly of New Caledonia shall determine, in order to ensure the development of New Caledonia in accordance with the guidelines set out in that agreement and in the manner required for its implementation:

  • those of the State's powers which are to be definitively transferred to the institutions of New Caledonia, the applicable time frame and the manner in which said transfer shall be proceeded with, together with the apportionment of expenditure arising in connection therewith;

  • the rules governing the organization and operation of the institutions of New Caledonia, in particular the circumstances in which certain kinds of decisions taken by the Deliberative Assembly of New Caledonia may be referred to the Constitutional Council for review before publication;

  • the rules concerning citizenship, the electoral system, employment, and personal status as laid down by customary law;

  • the conditions and the time limits within which the population concerned in New Caledonia is to vote on the attainment of full sovereignty.

Any other measures required to give effect to the agreement referred to in Article 76 shall be determined by statute.

For the purpose of defining the body of electors called upon to elect members of the Deliberative Assemblies of New Caledonia and the provinces, the list referred to in the Agreement mentioned in Article 76 hereof and Sections 188 and 189 of Institutional Act n° 99-209 of March 19th 1999 pertaining to New Caledonia is the list drawn up for the ballot provided for in Article 76 hereinabove which includes those persons not eligible to vote.[41]

Articles 78 to 86 [Repealed] 

Title XIV  On the Cooperation with French-Speaking States (Francophonie) and Association Agreements[42]

Article 87 

The Republic shall take part in the development of solidarity and cooperation between States and peoples sharing the French language.

Article 88 

The Republic may enter into agreements with States which wish to associate with it in order to develop their civilizations.

Title XV  On the European Communities and the European Union

[Title XV  On the European Union[43]]

Article 88-1 

The Republic shall participate in the European Communities and in the European Union constituted by States which have freely chosen, by virtue of the treaties that established them, to exercise some of their powers in common.

It shall participate in the European Union in the conditions provided for by the Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community signed on December 13, 2007.

[Article 88-1 

The Republic shall participate in the European Union constituted by States which have freely chosen, by virtue of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union as they result from the treaty signed in Lisbon on December 13th 2007, to exercise some of their powers in common.]

Article 88-2 

Subject to reciprocity and in accordance with the terms of the Treaty on European Union signed on February 7, 1992, France agrees to the transfer of powers necessary for the establishment of the European Economic and Monetary Union.

Subject to the same reservation and in accordance with the terms of the Treaty establishing the European Community, as amended by the Treaty signed on October 2, 1997, the transfer of powers necessary for the determination of rules concerning freedom of movement for persons and related areas may be agreed.

Statutes shall determine the rules relating to the European arrest warrant pursuant to acts adopted under the Treaty on European Union.

[Article 88-2 

A statute shall determine the rules concerning the European arrest warrant in application of the acts adopted by the institutions of the European Union.]

Article 88-3 

Subject to reciprocity and in accordance with the terms of the Treaty on European Union signed on February 7, 1992, the right to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal elections shall be granted only to citizens of the Union residing in France. Such citizens shall neither hold the office of Mayor or Deputy Mayor nor participate in the designation of Senate electors or in the election of Senators. An Institutional Act passed in identical terms by the two Houses shall determine the manner of implementation of this Article.

Article 88-4 

The Government shall lay before the National Assembly and the Senate, as soon as they have been transmitted to the Council of the European Union, drafts of or proposals for Acts of the European Communities and the European Union.

In the manner laid down by the rules of procedure of each House, resolutions may be passed, even if Parliament is not in session, on the drafts or proposals referred to in the first paragraph, as well as on any other document emanating from an institution of the European Union.

A committee on European affairs shall be created in each House.

[Article 88-4 

The Government shall lay before the National Assembly and the Senate, as soon as they have been transmitted to the Council of the European Union, draft European legislative acts and the other drafts of or proposals for Acts of the European Union.

In the manner laid down by the rules of procedure of each House, resolutions may be passed, even if Parliament is not in session, on the drafts or proposals referred to in the first paragraph, as well as on any other document emanating from an institution of the European Union.

A committee on European affairs shall be created in each House.]

Article 88-5 

Any Government Bill authorizing the ratification of a Treaty pertaining to the accession of a State to the European Union and the European Communities shall be submitted to referendum by the President of the Republic.

However, by voting a resolution adopted in identical terms by both Houses with a three-fifths majority Parliament may authorize the adoption of the Government Bill in the procedure provided for in the third paragraph of Article 89.[44]

[This Article shall not apply to accessions subsequent to an Intergovernmental Conference of which the convening was decided by the European Council before July 1, 2004.]

[Article 88-5 

Any Government Bill authorizing the ratification of a Treaty pertaining to the accession of a State to the European Union shall be submitted to referendum by the President of the Republic.

However, by voting a resolution adopted in identical terms by both Houses with a three-fifths majority Parliament may authorize the adoption of the Government Bill in the procedure provided for in the third paragraph of Article 89.]

[This Article shall not apply to accessions subsequent to an Intergovernmental Conference of which the convening was decided by the European Council before July 1, 2004.]

Article 88-6 

The National Assembly or the Senate may formulate a reasoned opinion as to the compliance of a proposal for a European legislative act with the principle of subsidiarity. This opinion shall be addressed by the President of the House involved to the Presidents of the European Parliament, Council and Commission. The Government shall be informed thereof.

Each House may initiate proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union with respect to any European legislative act for infringement of the principle of subsidiarity. The Government shall transmit said initiation of proceedings to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Resolutions may be passed to this end, if need be outside normal sessions, in the manner provided for by the regulations of each House for the tabling of and debate on said resolutions.

[Article 88-6 

The National Assembly or the Senate may issue a reasoned opinion as to the conformity of a draft proposal for a European Act with the principle of subsidiarity. Said opinion shall be addressed by the President of the House involved to the Presidents of the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission. The Government shall be informed of said opinion.

Each House may institute proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union against a European legislative act for non-compliance with the principle of subsidiarity. Such proceedings shall be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union by the Government.

For the purpose of the foregoing, resolutions may be passed, even if Parliament is not in session, in the manner set down by the rules of procedure of each House for the tabling and discussion thereof. At the request of sixty Members of the National Assembly or sixty Senators the institution of the proceedings shall be compulsory.[45]]

Article 88-7 

By the passing of a motion adopted in identical terms by the National Assembly and the Senate, Parliament may oppose any modification of rules applicable to the adoption of acts of the European Union in the cases provided for, as regards the procedure of simplified revision of the Treaties or judicial cooperation in civil matters, by the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union as worded pursuant to the Treaty signed in Lisbon on December 13, 2007.

[Article 88-7 

Parliament may by the passing of a motion in identical terms by the National Assembly and the Senate, oppose any modification of the rules governing the passing of Acts of the European Union in cases provided for under the simplified revision procedure for treaties or under judicial cooperation on civil matters, as set forth in the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as they result from the treaty signed in Lisbon on December 13, 2007.]

Title XVI  On Amendments to the Constitution

Article 89 

The President of the Republic, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, and Members of Parliament alike shall have the right to initiate amendments to the Constitution.

A Government or a Private Member's Bill to amend the Constitution shall be examined within the time limits established in the third paragraph of Article 42 and voted by the two Houses in identical terms. The amendment shall take effect after approval by referendum.[46]

However, a Government Bill to amend the Constitution shall not be submitted to referendum where the President of the Republic decides to submit it to Parliament convened in Congress; the Government Bill to amend the Constitution shall then be approved only if it is passed by a three-fifths majority of the votes cast. The Bureau of the Congress shall be that of the National Assembly.

No amendment procedure shall be commenced or continued where the integrity of national territory is placed in jeopardy.

The Republican form of government shall not be the object of any amendment.

Title XVII  [Repealed]

Footnotes:

[1]  Paragraph 2 was inserted by Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[2]  Paragraph 3 was inserted and paragraph 2 amended by Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[3]  Paragraph 2 was inserted by Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[4]  Paragraphs 3 to 7 were inserted by Constitutional Act No. 2008-724. They give Parliament the right to initiate a referendum on a legislative proposal which had previously been restricted to the President. The amended provision will come into force at the time determined by the Institutional Act referred to in paragraph 4, see Art. 46 §1 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[5]  Paragraph 4 was inserted by Constitutional Act No. 2008-724. It makes presidential appointments to the offices and posts concerned subject to parliamentary control. The amended provision will come into force at the time determined by the Institutional Act referred to in paragraph 5, see Art. 46 §1 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[6]  Paragraph 6 was inserted by Constitutional Act No. 2008-724. The application of the far-reaching emergency powers of Article 16 beyond a period of thirty days is now subject to review by the Constitutional Council.

[7]  Prior to the reform of July 23, 2008, the power of the President to grant pardons was not limited to individual cases but could include amnesties for whole groups of offenders.

[8]  Paragraph 2 was inserted and paragraph 3 amended by Constitutional Act No. 2008-724, giving the President for the first time in the Fifth Republic the right to appear in person before both Houses of Parliament especially convened for this purpose.

[9]  Paragraph 1 is new and introduces a comprehensive "mission statement"-similar to those for the President and the Government to be found in Article 5 and Article 20, respectively-in the text of the Constitution. Prior to the reform of July 2008 Article 24 had the following wording:

"Parliament shall comprise the National Assembly and the Senate.

Members of the National Assembly shall be elected by direct suffrage.

The Senate shall be elected by indirect suffrage. The Senate shall ensure the representation of the territorial communities of the Republic. French nationals living abroad shall be represented in the Senate."

[10]  The amended version of Article 25 will enter into force at the time established by the statute referred to in the new paragraph 3. However, the provision in paragraph 2 relating to the temporary replacement of Members of the National Assembly and Senators who have accepted a Government post or mission shall also apply to Members of Parliament who have accepted such functions before the entry into force of the Institutional Act referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2, provided that on this date they continue to exercise their governmental functions and the parliamentary term for which they were elected has not yet expired, see Art. 46 §3 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[11]  The legislative powers of Parliament in paragraphs 1 and 2 were extended and paragraph 6 was inserted by constitutional reform of July 23, 2008.

[12]  Article 34-1 re-introduces the power of the parliamentary assemblies to adopt general policy resolutions on any matter they think fit as long as they do not seek to curtail the freedom of action of the Government. The provision will enter into force on the date determined by the Institutional Act necessary to its implementation, see Art. 46 §1 Constitutional Act. No. 2008-724.

[13]  The new paragraphs 2 to 4 strengthen the role of Parliament in the decision-making process concerning the use of the Armed Forces outside the French territory which hitherto had almost completely escaped its control.

[14]  Prior to the reform of July 2008, the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Council had admitted the implicit ratification of ordinances, namely by way of their subsequent statutory modification.

[15]  Paragraphs 3 to 5 were inserted by the Constitutional Act No. 2008-724 as part of a broader attempt to strengthen the role and the powers of Parliament. The conditions for introducing bills will no longer be subject to Government discretion but will have to comply with the conditions fixed in an Institutional Act. The amendments will come into force on the date determined by the Institutional Act mentioned in paragraph 3, see Art. 46 §1 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[16]  The amended Article 41 puts the Presidents of the Assembly and the Senate on an equal footing with the Government. It will enter into force on March 1, 2009, see Art. 46 §2 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[17]  The amended version of Article 42 will come into force on March 1, 2009, see Art. 46 §2 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[18]  The amended text of Article 43 will come into force on March 1, 2009, see Art. 46 §2 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[19]  Second sentence introduced by constitutional amendment of July 23, 2008. The amendment comes into force at the time determined by the Institutional Act, see Art. 46 §1 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[20]  The reform gives the Houses of Parliament, in the form of their Conferences of Presidents, control over the use of the accelerated legislative procedure and the convening of a joint committee, which hitherto were at the discretion of the Government. It will come into force on March 1, 2009, see Art. 46 §2 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[21]  The amended Article 46 extends the new time limits for the debate and vote of Bills (amended Article 42) and the modified provisions on the procedures to be used in the event of disagreement between the two Houses on a legislative proposal (amended Article 45) to the adoption of Institutional Bills. The changes will come into force on March 1, 2009, see Art. 46 §2 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[22]  Prior to the reform of July 23, 2008, the role of the Cour des Comptes had been limited to assisting Government and Parliament in the monitoring of the implementation of Finance Acts and Social Security Financing Acts. It is now given a wider role, and is expressly put at the disposal of Parliament in order to help it control Government action.

[23]  Article 48 has been completely revamped in order to increase the control of the Houses of Parliament over their agenda. This includes the recognition of certain minority rights, see paragraph 5. The amendments will come into force on March 1, 2009, see Art. 46 §2 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[24]  The constitutional reform of July 23, 2008 has limited the right of the Prime Minister to make the passing of legislation an issue of confidence to certain particularly important Acts, i.e. Finance Acts and Social Security Financing Acts. Those Bills aside, he may use this instrument only on one additional Bill per session. Article 49 paragraph 3 is the most effective instrument of Government control over Parliament's legislative agenda since it effectively ends any parliamentary discussion on the merits of the legislation in question. The limitation of its use has therefore been high on the agenda of the supporters of a strengthening of the parliamentary features of the Fifth Republic. The changes will come into force on March 1, 2009, see Art. 46 §2 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[25]  The newly introduced Article 50-1 widens the possibilities for the Government to let Parliament participate in general policy debates. It will come into force on March 1, 2009, see Art. 46 §2 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[26]  The newly inserted Article 51-1 gives constitutional recognition to the status of parliamentary groups in general, and to that of opposition and minority groups in particular. It will come into force on March 1, 2009, see Art. 46 §2 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[27]  The status and the powers of committees of enquiry were so far only subject to statutory regulation. The constitutional reform of July 23, 2008 emphasizes their role for the effective exercise of Parliament's control mission by elevating them to constitutional status. It will come into force on March 1, 2009, see Art. 46 §2 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[28]  The amendment of paragraph 1 extends Parliament's newly introduced control powers with regard to presidential appointments of public officials (see note 6) to the appointment of the members of the Constitutional Council. The amendment will come into force on the date set by the Institutional Act referred to in the last paragraph of the amended Article 13, see Art. 46 §1 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[29]  The amended paragraph 1 extends constitutional review to legislative proposals which Parliaments wants to put to a referendum. Government Bills are not covered: they are instead subject to a simple avis by the Conseil d'Etat.

[30]  The reform of July 23, 2008 has introduced an important power which the Constitutional Council had previously lacked: to check the constitutionality of legislation which is already in force in the context of a pending court case (concrete review). To which extent it will be able to use this new power will depend on the cooperation of the highest courts which have discretion whether they refer a case to the Council or not. The provision will come into force once the Institutional Act on the Constitutional Council has been amended in order to fix the details of the new procedure, Art. 46 §1 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[31]  The amendment of Article 62 regulates the most important procedural questions which are raised by the application of the new power of the Constitutional Council to strike down legislation which is already in force.

[32]  The reform of Article 65 reduces the role the Government plays in the functioning of the judiciary's main self-governing body, i.e. the High Council of the Judiciary. This move is intended to strengthen the independence of the judicial branch in general. The reform will become effective once the Institutional Act referred to in the last paragraph of the amended Article 65 enters into force, see Art. 46 §1 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[33]  Article 66-1 was inserted by Constitutional Act No. 2007-239 of February 23, 2007. France abolished the death penalty in 1981 by virtue of the Loi 81-908 of October 9, 1981.

[34]  Title IX was reformed by Constitutional Act No. 2007-238 following a controversy about the criminal responsibility of the French President before the ordinary courts which had arisen in the context of criminal investigations involving President Chirac for allegedly unlawful financial transactions during his time as mayor of Paris. The Constitutional Council had weighed in on the controversy with a widely criticized ruling which concluded that the criminal responsibility of the President could only be determined by the High Court of Justice during his term of office, see Introduction, IV. 1. a) (4). In the wake of the controversy President Chirac appointed a commission under the chairmanship of the constitutional law professor Pierre Avril in order to submit proposals for a reform of the rules governing the criminal responsibility of the President of the Republic. The recommendations of the commission have been implemented by the constitutional reform of February 23, 2007. Prior to the revision, Articles 67, 68 were worded as follows:

TITLE IX HIGH COURT OF JUTICE

Article 67

A High Court of Justice shall be established.

It shall be composed of an equal number of members elected from among their ranks by the National Assembly and the Senate, after each general or partial renewal of these Assemblies. It shall elect its President from among its members.

An Institutional Act shall determine the composition of the High Court of Justice, its rules of functioning and the procedure applicable before it.

Article 68

The President of the Republic shall not be responsible for acts performed in the exercise of his duties except in the case of high treason. He may be indicted only by a resolution adopted in identical terms by the two Assemblies in a public vote by an absolute majority of their members. He shall be tried before the High Court of Justice.

[35]  The constitutional reform of July 23, 2008 has extended the competences of the former Economic and Social Council to the field of environmental policy. It may now also deal with petitions from citizens. Its maximum membership has been fixed at 233. The amendments to Article 69 will enter into force on the date determined by the Institutional Act referred in paragraph 3, see Art. 46 §1 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[36]  The défenseur de droits takes over the functions formerly discharged by the médiateur de la République and those of other institutions. His role is similar to that of the Ombudsman in other legal systems. His elevation to constitutional status emphasizes the importance attached by the drafters of the amendment to an effective protection of fundamental rights. The new title will enter into force at the time indicated by the Institutional Act referred to in paragraph 3, see Art. 46 §1 of Constitutional Act No.2008-724.

[37]  As amended by Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[38]  The amendments to Article 73 will become effective with the entry into force of the statutes referred to in paragraphs 2 and 3, see Art. 46 §1 of Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[39]  As amended by Constitutional Act No. 2008-724.

[40]  The constitutional reform of July 23, 2008 has given the regional languages constitutional recognition, without however addressing the issue of special collective rights for their speakers.

[41]  Article 77 was modified by Constitutional Act No. 2007-237 of February 23, 2007. The amendment introduced the words "of New Caledonia" behind "Deliberative Assembly" in subparagraph 2 of paragraph 1 and inserted a new paragraph 3.

[42]  The heading of Title XV has been changed and a new Article 87 been introduced in order to give the cooperation with other French-speaking states a constitutional basis.

[43]  The amended versions of Articles 88-4 and 88-5 become effectively immediately, whereas the amended version of Article 88-6 will only enter into force one the Treaty of Lisbon has become effective. On that date, any references in the heading and the provisions of Title XV to the European Communities will disappear, and references to the Treaty establishing the European Community will be replaced by references to the new Treaty on the functioning of the European Union. The future versions of Articles 88-1, 88-2, 88-4, 88-5, 88-6 and 88-7 are here reproduced in brackets.

[44]  By providing for an alternative, parliamentary procedure for the ratification of the accession of new member states to the European Union the amended Article 88-5 gives the political leadership greater flexibility on accession matters and waters down the effects of the constitutional reform of March 1, 2005 which had introduced the compulsory referendum in this area.

[45]  The constitutional reform of July 23, 2008 has strengthened the position of Members of the National Assembly and the Senate by providing them with the right to initiate proceedings before the European Court of Justice for violation of the subsidiarity principle in the same conditions which apply to a reference to the Constitutional Council (Article 61).

[46]  The time limits for the discussion of constitutional amendments in the Houses of Parliament have been adapted to the time limits introduced for the ordinary legislative procedure.