THE CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL AFTER THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS OF JULY 2008 (Rada Konstytucyjna we Francji po zmianach konstytucyjnych z lipca 2008 r.)
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French Constitutional Council is a special example of a European constitutional court. Apart from the review of constitutionality of law, it performs the function of electoral tribunal. The French model of review of constitutionality of law is called French exception (l'exception français). The constitutional bill Nr. 2008-724 of 23 July 2008 on modernization of institutions of the Fifth Republic introduced amendments to the French Constitution, concerning inter alia the legal status and the position of the Constitutional Council in the system of government. These amendments relate to the procedure for appointment of members of the Constitutional Council, their consultative competences in the case of use of extraordinary powers by the President of the Republic, the Council's jurisdiction in the field of review of legislation in the aspect of authority, the review of parliamentary bills subjected to a referendum, as well as review concerning legislative initiative of the government.. The aim of the amendments is, above all, to depoliticize the Constitutional Council, to broaden the scope of its competences and the role in the review of legislation. Of special importance is the introduction of the institution of prejudicial questions, which implies conferring on the Council the power of a posteriori review of constitutionality of statutes. In this context, a notion of 'l'exception d'inconstitutionnalité' appears in the French constitutional doctrine. This fundamental change of the model of review of the constitutionality of law in France strengthens the position of the Constitutional Council as a constitutional court and a guarantor of supremacy of the constitutional norms. The constitutional amendments of July provide a basis for further development of the review of constitutionality of law, referring not only to institutional norms contained in the constitution, but also to the principles guaranteeing protection of fundamental freedoms and rights of the individual. The French model of constitutional court and the system of review of constitutionality of law has been changed in the direction of stronger protection of constitutional norms. The Constitutional Council has become to be similar to the constitutional courts of other European countries, particularly to the German Federal Constitutional Court. At the same time, it maintains its identity in relation to appointment of members and review of constitutionality of law.
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