European Journal of Law Reform

Article

Governments as Covid-19 Lawmakers in France, Italy and Spain

Continuity or Discontinuity

Keywords Covid-19, emergency legislation, executive lawmaking, parliaments, decree-laws and ordinances
Authors Elena Griglio
Author's information

Elena Griglio
Elena Griglio is Senior Parliamentary Official of the Italian Senate and Adjunct Professor at LUISS University, Rome.
  • Abstract

      Executive dominance in Covid-19 lawmaking has been a major trend worldwide. Governments have leveraged emergency prerogatives to boost their legislative powers, often sidelining the role of parliaments. The impact of executive lawmaking on fundamental liberties has been unprecedented. However, government’s capacity to exercise full legislative powers is not absolutely new to many European countries.
      This trend is analysed in the article comparing practices in the pandemic and in normal times, not specifically related to a state of emergency. To this end, three countries have been selected because of their constitutional clauses allotting lawmaking powers to the government even outside of emergency situations. This refers to the decree-laws in Italy and Spain and the ordonnances in France. The question addressed is whether there are relevant differences in the use made of these mechanisms during the pandemic.
      The results of this comparative analysis demonstrate that there is much continuity in the executive’s reliance on these mechanisms. However, discontinuity may be detected on the ground of the exceptional impact produced on constitutional rights and on the substantive values that legislation should protect. Therefore, from the perspective of the rollback of the emergency legislation, the role of parliaments, based on the core difference in the democratic status between lawmaking and legislation, turns out to be crucial.

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