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Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 Simplification of law in France: the time for assessment OECD 24.

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1 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 Simplification of law in France: the time for assessment OECD 24 April 2006 Charles-Henri Montin Head of (interministerial) B.R. Unit Ministry of Finance, France

2 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 The right time to examine what has been done The tools –3 simplification laws (annual?) since 2003 –15 codes –Loi anti-loi –Guide de légistique New assessments of results, introduction of new insights –Conseil dEtat report (20 March 2006) –Comité denquête report (26 January 2006) Much doubt and soul-searching. A new initiative ?

3 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 Outline of the presentation « Il ny a pas de liberté sans lois. » (J.J. Rousseau) Origins of the issue in France The simplification procedures Enabling Acts Codification Loi anti-loi Two recent assessment of the results –Comité sur le coût et rendement des service publics –Conseil dEtat

4 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 Concern about the «normative inflation » The OECD peer review of France (2003) The concern of the highest authorities. Civil rights spirit embodied by the Conseil Constitutionnel: –accessibility and understandability of the law justify simplification (decision 473 dated 26/6/2003) –Excessive complexity is illegal (decision 530 of 29/12/2005) "en raison de son excessive complexité, qu'aucun motif d'intérêt général ne suffisait à justifier." « Les longues lois sont des calamités publiques » (St Just) Simplification: origins of the issue

5 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 The procedures The main instrument : ordinances under Art.38 of the Constitution to empower the Government Two methods to select the contents of the simplification programme: - asks ministries for their projects (LH1 et LH2) -ask the citizens/users (PLS3 « Il y a tant de lois quil ny a personne exempt dêtre pendu.» (Napoléon I)

6 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 The third simplification law (examples of articles) 1/ For the public –Simplify election procedures (electronic vote, single commission, leaflets, etc) –Suppress handwritten mentions in contracts –Change of matrimonial contract without court proceeding –Facilitate redress for victims of crime 2/ For businesses –Unify multiple declarations (into single) for apprentices –Harmonise rules about gaz transport by pipeline (7 laws at present) –Simplify litigation procedures 3/ For local authorities –Align procurement concepts –Practical measures to facilitate operations of local authorities

7 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 Codification Codification : a French tradition To promote access and understanding of the law No changes to the content Dynamic codification Clarification and simplification of texts Static codification « Il faut être sobre de nouveautés en matière de législation » Portalis, discours prélimaire du code civil, 1804

8 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 The new codification 3 types, between which you need to choose carefully 1/ re-writing: redraft unclear laws, abrogate useless or obsolete articles, or regulations within legislative area, harmonize and simplify the legal concepts. LH2 authorizes such codification for Public Health, Expropriations 2/ inclusion of jurisprudence: not truly new law, when it is simplu interpretation, but must be authorized if it includes extension. Example the Administrative code which will regulate relations with the public 3/ full scale renovation of existing texts, with reform of underlying principles. Example Code des propriétés publiques

9 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 La loi anti-loi: issues Official name: law abrogating dispositions outdated or rendered meaningless A symbolic dossier favored by ministers Legal issues, leading to C.E. reserves about the idea –Most texts have been codified (70%), i.e articles. Not many « orphans » –Need for an décret anti décret –Simplification is the main tool, it includes abrogation –Near impossible to find whole laws to fit the criteria –Review the whole corpus to track down the suspects « Les lois inutiles affaiblissent les lois nécessaires » (Montesquieu – 1754)

10 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 The time for assessment Two major assessments published in recent weeks –Conseil dEtat: sécurité juridique et complexité du droit (March 2006) –Comité sur le coût et rendement des service publics: effets de la loi du 2 juillet 2003 (February 2006)

11 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 Conseil dEtat: a new diagnostic of complexity 1/ Complexity from new sources of law -development and extension of EU law (result of institutional reform). Primacy of EU law over internal law -new regulators : independent administrative authorities- the new principle of "free administration of territorial authorities« - special legal regimes of overseas territories 2/ L'intempérance normative - misuse of legislative power to further political agendas, or pander to public opinion transient moods - answer to the "social demand" asking for new norms, specially in the fields of security and social affairs

12 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 the simplification process itself contributes to cluttering the legislative agenda the new laws are not consistent with existing legislation hence complexity/ obscurity / instability for the judges there is a loss of control by Parliament lacunae in the implementation; excessive use of internal instructions to provide guidance to services (not legally binding, and often not published) penalisation of economic actors and citizens (legal insecurity, administrative burden reaching 3 to 4% of GDP), with the resulting loss of competitivity Consequences as listed by Conseil dEtat

13 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 C.E.s recommendations for change Time –limits: OECD diagnosed that the system of written Roman law does not ascribe time-limits to legislation, hence the piling up of texts, which codification has failed to contain. Avoid sedimentation; assess corpus and abrogate outdated/useless norms The simplification process has generated too many new texts: 150 ordonnances, which in many cases have been changed several times, or haven't been implemented because the ministries cannot agree on the décrets d'application. Stem the flow of new legislation.

14 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 CE recommendations Stricter respect of existing constitutional rules Emphasis on the political responsibility for the current situation Quoting the OECD, the C.E. recommends that an organic law (and a constitutional update) reform the legislative process, especially to introduce compulsory RIAs and other adjustments (limit amendments, facilitate transposition of EU directives, enhance parliamentary control on implementation of laws).

15 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 The report of the Comité denquête New approach: you must measure success of S. program in "transformation of administrative action", in terme of savings, instead of "evolution of law «, hence a severe diagnostic; Inappropriate scope of programs Ineffective tools (ordinances) Fautly implementation

16 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 The inappropriate scope of the program Legal simplification is a necessary step but not always enough to bring about a simplification of practices inconsistencies in norms Volatility of practices ( rapidly changing texts) Still fair amount of purely formal (clearing) of texts going on there are two many exogeneous elements inserted into S laws Simplification of law can be useful when applied to elementary procedures

17 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 The lack of effectivity of the tool The ordinance is not an efficient vector for reform -no proper discussion in Parliament, hence risk -piecemeal approach, no overall scheme to uniformise regimes dealing with similar situations only surface treatment of complexity the ordinance can even be harmful, dressing up as simplification what is just a lightening of procedure. many simplifications have been introduced without reference to the shift to LOLF the simplification agenda gets diluted or lost in the buzz of multiple reforms on the same subject

18 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 The implementation of S. policy is faulty Implementation is generally chaotic and piecemeal: the simplification measures are drowned in the mass of instructions the services receive, many of which get higher priority delays in issuing implementation rules. : O 1/7/04 on commissions still not in force stratification between the policy makers and the end-users. simplification is a resource-driven process « Le législateur, en élaborant la loi, ne doit jamais perdre de vue l'abus qu'on peut en faire » (Victor Hugo)

19 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 CECRSP : what simplification can do Simplification works best for technical improvements Open new exchanges of information between administrations Centralise operations hitherto distributed between different departments (example social affairs) Deal with operations and processes, example professsional elections, rather than principles Suppress least cost-effective tools, such as fiscal stamps Reduce ex ante control: replace authorization regime by a declaration

20 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 CECRSP : you must manage simplifications (strategic) a better definition, and a strategy "réforme de l'Etat avoid introducing new norms simplify the process itself: focus on simple measures. (practical) look at the process rather than the text measure the impact and cost each measure include the regulatory measures in the project monitor implementation (the complexity does not disappear when the text is published in the JO) weakness of the "big-bang" approach

21 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 CONCLUSION Major issues for discussion stemming from the reports: How to contain the growth of legal norms while meeting the expectations of citizens for security ? Should all legislation be codified ? The recognition of Consultation and AB to assist simplification Can more rules introduce quality into the political normative process Success of S. can depend on good project management

22 Ministère délégué chargé de la réforme de lEtat (DG Modernisation) Paris 24 April 2006 Find the documents quoted in this presentation Central BR site for France: : 1/ The two recent reports: –Conseil dEtat : « sécurité juridique et complexité du droit » (20 March 2006) : –Comité sur le coût et le rendement des services publics : « effets de la loi du 2 juillet 2003 » (26 janvier 2006) activites/ordonnances/simplification-droit-ordonnances pdf 2/ Décisions du Conseil constitutionnel


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