Rule of Law in France

Justice

Effective justice systems are essential for upholding the rule of law. Independence, quality and efficiency are the defined parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the model of the national legal system and tradition in which it is anchored. Whilst the organisation of justice in the Member States falls within the competence of the Member States, when they are exercising that competence, Member States must ensure that their national justice systems provide for effective judicial protection. The independence of national courts is fundamental to ensuring such judicial protection. National courts ensure that the rights and obligations provided under EU law are enforced effectively. As re-affirmed by the European Court of Justice, the very existence of effective judicial review to ensure compliance with EU law is of the essence for the rule of law. Effective justice systems are also the basis for mutual trust, which is the bedrock of the common area of freedom, justice and security, an investment friendly environment, the sustainability of long-term growth and the protection of EU financial interests. The European Court of Justice has further clarified the requirements stemming from EU law regarding judicial independence. The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights also provides for key standards to be respected to safeguard judicial independence.

Independence

green
Reforms to further strengthen judicial independence have recently been proposed.
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The level of perceived independence among companies is high, and the level of perceived independence among the general public is average.
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Quality

yellow
Efforts are ongoing to further develop the digitalisation of the justice system.
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Initiatives aim at increasing the resources for the justice system.
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Certain measures relating to the functioning of the justice system were introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Efficiency

yellow
Civil justice faces some challenges with regards to its efficiency.
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Anti-corruption

The fight against corruption is essential for maintaining the rule of law. Corruption undermines the functioning of the state and of public authorities at all levels and is a key enabler of organised crime 48 . Effective anti-corruption frameworks, transparency and integrity in the exercise of state power can strengthen legal systems and trust in public authorities. Fighting corruption needs to be based on evidence about its prevalence and form in a given country, the conditions that enable corruption and the legal, institutional and other incentives that can be used to prevent, detect and sanction corruption.

Institutional Framework

green
France scores 69/100 on the latest Transparency Corruption Perception Index, ranking 9th in the European Union and 23rd globally.
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National legislation criminalises all forms of active and passive corruption offences in the public and private sector.
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The Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) has been established on 9 December 2016.
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Prevention

green
The High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP) is responsible for ensuring the integrity of public institutions.
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Companies of a certain size are under the obligation to set up anti-corruption programmes.
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A consolidated regime for whistleblower protection has been put in place.
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Provisions are broadly in place to regulate lobbying and ‘revolving doors’.
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Repressive measures

green
While all police branches can investigate corruption crimes, a Central Office for Combating Corruption and Tax Offenses (OCLCIFF) is dedicated specifically to investigating corruption and bribery of foreign public officials.
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The work of the National Financial Prosecutor (PNF) has led to the prosecution and conviction of several high-level cases including politicians and representatives of international companies.
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Public interest judicial agreements (CJIP) provide an alternative to prosecution in France.
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Media Freedom

All Member States have legal frameworks in place to protect media freedom and pluralism and EU citizens broadly enjoy high standards of media freedom and pluralism. Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism and the right of access to information are generally enshrined in the Constitution or in secondary law. Media pluralism and media freedom are key enablers for the rule of law, democratic accountability and the fight against corruption. The murders of journalists who were investigating high-level corruption and organised crime allegations have been a wake-up call reminding Member States of the obligation to guarantee an enabling environment for journalists, protect their safety and pro-actively promote media freedom and media pluralism.

Regulatory authorities

green
The independence of the media regulator in France is guaranteed by law.
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Transparency of Media

green
The rules on transparency of media ownership require companies to make certain ownership information public.
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The allocation of state advertising is regulated by the Public Procurement Law and the Law on the Government Information Service.
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An established legal framework and the presence of a plurality of players minimise risks for political control over the media.
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Journalists' Protection

yellow
The editorial freedom of journalists is guaranteed by the application of the ‘conscience clause’ and the ‘termination clause’.
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The legal framework provides measures for physical safety of journalists, but threats to journalists are increasing.
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Other Institutional Issues

Institutional checks and balances are at the core of the rule of law. They guarantee the functioning, cooperation and mutual control of State organs so that power is exercised by one state authority with the scrutiny of others. In addition to an effective justice systems, checks and balances rely on a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws, the separation of powers, the constitutional and judicial review of laws, a transparent and high-quality public administration as well as effective independent authorities such as ombudsperson institutions or national human rights institutions.

Preparing and enacting laws

green
Impact assessments and stakeholder consultations are frequently conducted in the legislative process.
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An emergency regime was introduced in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and measures adopted were subject to scrutiny of the courts.
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Civil Society

green
Recent initiatives aim to foster the landscape for civil society.
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Independent Authorities

green
Several independent authorities contribute to safeguarding fundamental rights.
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