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The Council of Ministers of France (or Executive Council) is a body of top administration members of the Prime Minister's Cabinet. In French, the word gouvernement generally refers to the "Administration", but in a narrower sense to the Cabinet.

The Council is responsible to the French Parliament. The National Assembly may choose to pass a motion of censure forcing the Council of Ministers to resign. This has the effect of forcing the Administration and Cabinet to be drawn from the majority political party in the Assembly or to be allied to the majority in coalition. Ministers are required to answer written or oral questions put to them by members of Parliament, known as Government questions (questions au gouvernement). In addition, ministers attend sessions of the Parliament Houses when laws concerning their assigned sectors and departmental portfolios are under consideration.

Cabinet ministers cannot propose legislation without parliamentary approval, though the Prime Minister may under certain limits enact statutory instruments, known as orders-in-council (décret en Conseil des ministres), i.e., government orders with statutory force. Ministers can however propose bills to Parliament and any such legislation is generally very likely to pass. On occasion, the majority opinion in Parliament may differ significantly from those of the executive, resulting in a large number of riders.

Traditionally, Council members are subdivided into three levels:

  • Ministers - highest-ranking members of the Administration
  • Deputy ministers (ministres délégués) - assist ministers in specialized areas of their portfolio
  • Secretaries of State (secrétaires d'État) - assist ministers in less important areas and occasionally attend sessions of the Council of Ministers.
  • Before the Fifth Republic was established, some ministers of high political importance were known as Ministers of State (ministres d'État). The title has been continued under the Fifth Republic but is granted in a purely honorific fashion as a point of higher prestige among Council members.

The Cabinet plays a major role in determining the agenda of the Parliament Houses. It can propose laws and amendments during parliamentary sessions. It also has a number of procedures at its disposal to expedite parliamentary deliberations.

The Council of Ministers usually holds sessions on Wednesday mornings at the Élysée Palace and is chaired by the French President.

List of Government Ministers

Head of the Administration: the Prime Minister of France.

The number and titles held by ministers and the division of duties and purviews between them varies from one Cabinet to the next.

Current Ministerial positions (with their current titles):

Ministerial positions which no longer exist:

Secretaries of State and Ministers during the Old Regime



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