The Council of State was instituted at the time of the constitutional revision of 27 November 1856. It is an independent institution that is called on for its opinion on all bills and proposals for new legislation and government draft regulations.
The Council of State - a consultative body
The Council of State acts as a consultative organ in the legislative procedure. All bills submitted by either the Government or Chamber of Deputies (Parliament) require the opinion of the Council of State. The Council of State also gives its opinion on all government draft regulations.
It considers whether the draft texts comply with the Constitution, international conventions, and the rule of law. This is a preliminary check. The a posteriori review is carried out by the Constitutional Court. The Council of State's role in the legislative procedure is to persuade, not to impose.
The main missions of the Council of State
According to ordinary legislative procedure, before a government bill is presented to the Chamber of Deputies, the Government must ask the Council of State for its opinion. The Council of State also gives its opinion on all the amendments proposed in the course of the procedure.
In Luxembourg's single-chamber system, all government bills and parliament bills must undergo two successive votes by the Chamber of Deputies. To attenuate the disadvantages of the Grand Duchy's system, the Council of State has a suspensive right of veto. There must be an interval of at least three months between the first and the second vote in the Chamber.
The Chamber may, however, waive the second vote, but only with the agreement of the Council of State. The main reason for the Council of State refusing to waive the second vote in the Chamber is if it feels that the legislation in question does not comply with either the Constitution, international law, European Union law, or with the general principles of law.
Composition and appointment
The Council of State has 21 councillors. At least eleven of these councillors must hold a master's degree in law. Members of the Council of State are formally appointed and dismissed by the Grand Duke following proposals made by the Government, the Chamber of Deputies, or the Council of State itself. When a candidate is appointed, both the distribution of the political parties in the Chamber of Deputies and a balanced representation of women and men is taken into account. The term of office of a member of the Council of State is 12 years.