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File n° 47
The passing of resolutions is one of the ways for Parliament to affirm itself and to exercise a distinctive aspect of its legislative voice. A resolution is an instrument by means of which the Assembly provides an opinion on a specific question.
Before 1958, resolutions were a traditional technique for Parliament to express itself and their adoption could lead to a calling into question of confidence in the Government.
This practice was outlawed by the Constitution of the Fifth Republic in the name of rationalized parliamentarianism. A decision dating from June 17, 1959 included a limitation by the Constitutional Council of the field of resolutions as Government accountability could only become an issue of confidence in the conditions set down by articles 49 and 50 of the Constitution. Thus Parliament was only allowed to pass resolutions which deal with measures of an internal nature.
A first breach was made in the wall by means of the constitutional revisions of June 25, 1992 and January 25, 1999. Article 88-4 thus allowed the assemblies to adopt resolutions dealing with drafts of or proposals for European acts.
The constitutional revision of July 23, 2008 followed upon this opening by introducing a new procedure in the conditions set by article 34-1 of the Constitution. A certain number of criteria have been defined in order to avoid any misuse of the procedure, such as a vote of confidence in the Government.
I.– THE TABLING OF DRAFT RESOLUTIONS
According to article 1 of the Institutional Act n° 2009-403 of April 15, 2009, draft resolutions may be tabled either by one or several members of the Assembly or by a group chairman.
1. – Presentation of the draft resolutions
No legislative or regulatory provision imposes any standard presentation for draft resolutions. There is no particular formal requirement (stamp, presentation by article or by paragraph, use of formulae, existence of a presentation of the case or even a limit to the length of the text).
2. – monitoring of admissibility by government
After tabling, the draft resolution is immediately transmitted by the President of the National Assembly to the Prime Minister who has the possibility of declaring the draft inadmissible in the conditions set by the second paragraph of article 34-1 of the Constitution and by article 4 of the institutional act.
In fact, these drafts cannot be included on the agenda if the Government considers that their adoption or rejection could be construed as an issue of confidence or if they contain an injunction to the Government. In the case of inadmissibility, the Government informs the President of the National Assembly of its decision which is the subject of an announcement in the Journal Officiel (Laws and Decrees section). The author of the text is also informed by the President of the National Assembly.
II.– INCLUSION ON THE AGENDA
1. – Such draft resolutions are meant to be examined during the sittings where the agenda is set by the National Assembly
The draft resolution is meant to be included on the agenda during the ordinary session, in principle, during the weeks given over to the examination of texts that the Assembly wishes to have debated or the weeks reserved to the monitoring of Government action and the assessment of public policies. In this case, the decision taken in the Conference of Presidents must be approved by the Assembly at the moment of the setting of the agenda as is required by article 48, paragraph one of the Constitution.
However inclusion on the Government priority agenda is possible in the conditions laid down by article 48 of the Constitution and article 48 of the Rules of Procedure. In this case the Government may request inclusion on the governmental agenda, so informing the President of the National Assembly at the latest, the day before the meeting.
In addition, a draft resolution could even be considered during an extraordinary session: in this case the decision to examine it lies with the President of the Republic.
2. – Inclusion on the agenda is decided at the conference of presidents
Inclusion on the agenda is decided at the Conference of Presidents in the conditions set down by articles 48 and 136 of the Rules of Procedure.
Two cases can be singled out:
- In principle, the group and committee chairmen address their drafts for inclusion on the agenda to the President of the National Assembly at the latest four days before the meeting of the Conference of Presidents;
- Nonetheless, article 136 of the Rules of Procedure allows group chairmen to inform the President of the National Assembly at the latest forty-eight hours before the holding of the Conference of Presidents.
The following cannot be included on the agenda:
- Draft resolutions dealing with the same subject as a previous draft discussed during the same ordinary session;
- Draft resolutions tabled for less than six full days;
- Draft resolutions against which the Government has informed the President of the National Assembly that it will claim inadmissibility in accordance with the second paragraph of article 34-1 of the Constitution.
III.– THE EXAMINATION OF DRAFT RESOLUTIONS
- Draft resolutions tabled before the Assembly are not sent to a committee. They are examined and voted on in plenary sitting but may not be subject to amendments.
- Furthermore a draft resolution cannot be rectified by its author once it has been included on the agenda. In fact, such a possibility would not allow the Government to decide on its admissibility as its decision has to be transmitted to the President of the National Assembly before the inclusion on the agenda of the draft concerned.