Prefect (France)

Prefect (France)

A prefect ( _fr. préfet) in France is the State's representative in a department or region. Sub-prefects (French: "sous-préfets") are responsible for the subdivisions of departments, arrondissements. The office of a prefect is known as a prefecture and that of a sub-prefect as a subprefecture.

Prefects are appointed by a decree of the President of the Republic in the Council of Ministers, following the proposal of the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior. [fr icon [;?idArticle=LEGIARTI000006351639&cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006061224&dateTexte=20080714 Decree 64-805 of July 29, 1964] , current version] They serve at the Government's discretion and can be replaced at any meeting of the Council.

From 1982 to 1988 prefects were called "commissaires de la République" (the Republic's commissionners). [See [;jsessionid=BD570844AD6537973AD6A9464532FC35.tpdjo14v_1?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000000879744&dateTexte=20040430 1982 decree] amended by a 1988-02-29 decree.]


The main role of the prefects are defined in article 72 of the Constitution of France::"In the local governments of the Republic, the representative of the State, representing each member of the Government, is in charge of national interests, of administrative checks, and the respect of Law."The exact role and attributions are defined in decrees, most notably decrees of 1964, 1982, 2004, each replacing the preceding one.

The prefect of the "département" containing the "chef-lieu de région" is also the "préfet de région", or the prefect of the "région".

Prefects operate under the Minister of the Interior. Their main missions include.
* representing the state to local governments;
* security
** the coordination of police and gendarmerie forces;
** handling major crises;
** emergency defence procedures;
* safety
** the decision to evacuate zones facing natural disasters; the organisation of relief operations;
* responsibility for official documents, such as
** the production of identity documents, including identity cards and passports;
** the issuing of driving licences, and their administrative withdrawal in case of certain offenses;
** the application of immigration rules;
* ensuring respect for legality: officials working for the prefect verify the legality of decisions made by local governments and submit doubtful cases to administrative courts or to financial auditing courts.

Prefects may issue administrative orders in areas falling within the competency of the national government, including general safety. For instance, they may prohibit the use of certain roads without special tyres in times of snow. The prohibition on smoking or leaving the motor running while filling the fuel tank of a motor vehicle is another example of a matter typically decided by a prefectoral administrative order.

On official occasions, prefects wear uniforms.

pecial cases

* In New Caledonia and French Polynesia, the roles of the prefect, with certain differences in status, are fulfilled by a high commissioner; in Wallis and Futuna, by a superior administrator.

* The French Southern Territories used to be run by a superior administrator, but since 2004 are run by a prefect. The prefect, however, is not based in the territories, but in Réunion.

* Paris, which is itself a department, and the three departments surrounding it are an exception. These four departments are governed by a single prefecture for law enforcement and security purposes — the Prefecture of Police — and the law enforcement powers exercised in other French cities and towns by the mayor here belong to the Prefect of Police.

* The authority of the State over the sea is exerced by the Maritime Prefect of the relevant region.


* [;?cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006061195&dateTexte=19820511 Decree of March 14, 1964] , regarding the powers of prefects
* [;?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000000879744&dateTexte=20040430 Decree of May 10, 1982] , regarding the powers of prefects
* [ Decree of April 29, 2004] , regarding the powers of prefects

ee also

* Prefect
* Prefectures in France

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