What is the difference between a law and a decree?

It happens that new laws as well as new decrees are put in place every year in our country. But what is the difference between these two official texts?

After a long period of debates, adjustments and discussions, the texts of law pass into the hands of the President of the Republic in order to be validated. As soon as they obtain this approval, they are published in the Official Journal and enter into force. In this area, official texts are divided into several broad categories. There are laws, Executive decrees, ordinances, orders and circulars. However, the first two are the most important. Very often quoted in the media , they are however similar in the eyes of the majority of French people. However, there are major differences between these two texts.

What are the characteristics of a law?

The text of the law must be voted by Parliament. The National Assembly and the Senate must therefore be in favor of the project, following the debate sessions and changes to the text if necessary. The law has the particularity of applying to all the citizens of the country, which is not necessarily the case of the decree. It can relate to any subject related to daily life: justice, education… When it is proposed, we then speak of a bill if it comes from the government or of a bill if it is at the initiative of a parliamentarian. Moreover, once published in the Official Journal, a new law may not come into force immediately.

The decree, a text that does not pass through the Assembly

Like a law, a decree is published in the Official Journal when it has received the approval of the head of state. However, the decree does not make it possible to establish a law and it does not need to obtain the approval of the National Assembly and the Senate. The decrees are issued by the government itself. It can be issued by the Prime Minister, the President, or by his ministers. The decree can relate to several subjects. We speak of a decree of distribution when the budgetary masses intended for the various ministries are decided and distributed. But there is also the application decree (which specifies the terms of application of a law) and the autonomous decrees (which do not concern the laws). In the case of a decree relating to several major themes, it may pass before the Council of Ministers before being approved.

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