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France: Constitutional Reform to Balance the Budget

(Mar. 22, 2011) The French government has recently prepared draft provisions to be inserted in the 1958 Constitution that would amend in depth the governance of public finances. The proposal aims to balance the budget. (Projet de loi constitutionnelle relatif à l'équilibre des finances publiques, Legifrance online database (last visited Mar. 18, 2011).)

Three types of measures would be used to achieve the goal of a balanced budget:

1. adopting “framework laws for the balancing of public finances” for longer term fiscal planning;

2. legally insuring that finance laws and laws on the financing of social security have a monopoly over the regulation of the fiscal policy and social security domains; and

3. systematically transmitting stability programs to the French Parliament before their submission to the European Commission under the EU's stability and growth plan. (Projet de loi constitutionnelle relatif à l'équilibre des finances publiques, Exposé des motifs, Legifrance online database (last visited Mar. 21, 2011).)

The constitutional change would have to be approved either by a referendum or by a three-fifths majority of the votes cast by Members of Parliament convened in a congress, as provided by article 89 of the Constitution. (The French National Assembly, 1958 Constitution (last visited Mar. 21, 2011).)