The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Decree is an order that has the force of law.

The word decree is often used as a derogative term for any authoritarian decision. See also rule by decree.


The word decree (décret) is used as a technical term to describe the executive decisions from the President or Prime Minister of France; they may be compared to US executive orders. Those decisions must conform to the Constitution and statutes of France, and it is possible to sue for their cancellation in the Conseil d'État (litigation section).

Decrees are of the two following kinds:

  • simple decrees (décrets simples);
  • decrees in the Council of State (décrets en Conseil d'État), when a statute mandates the advisory consultation of the Conseil d'État.

Sometimes, people refer to décrets en Conseil d'État improperly as décrets du Conseil d'État. This would imply that it is the Conseil d'État that takes the decree, whereas the power of decreeing is restricted to the President or Prime Minister; the role of the administrative sections of the Conseil is purely advisory.

They may be classified into:

  • regulations, which may be:
    • application decrees (décrets d'application), each of which must be specifically authorized by one or more statutes to determine some implementation conditions of this or these statutes; these constitute secondary legislation;
    • autonomous regulations (règlement autonomes), which may only be taken in areas where the Constitution of France does not impose statute law (passed by the legislative branch); these constitute primary legislation ;
  • particular measures, such as the nomination of high-level civil servants.

Related articles

Last updated: 02-07-2005 15:25:19
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55