Legislation is understood to mean all of the written rules applicable in a state, such as laws and government decrees. At the national level, the government and the States General can be referred to together as the formal legislator or legislature.
The King plays a role in the legislative process. Government bills are formally presented by the King to the House of Representatives. Laws are promulgated by order of the King. The King’s signature is, in addition to that of the relevant ministers or state secretaries, necessary for the ratification of laws and Royal Decrees. The procedure of formal legislation is regulated in the Constitution. Laws are drawn up in collaboration with the government and the States General, whereby the Houses, with a few exceptions, decide separately. These exceptional cases often concern matters concerning the Royal House, such as a law permitting a royal wedding or the appointment of a regent.
Then the House of Representatives and the Senate decide jointly in a so-called joint meeting of the States General.
Laws enacted at the initiative of the government generally and broadly follow the following procedure. The course of bills initiated by the House of Representatives hardly deviates from the described procedure. Step 1: Council of Ministers The vast majority of laws are drawn up at the initiative of the government. One or more ministers submit a bill to the Council of Ministers, which then takes a decision.
Step 2: Council of State After the Council of Ministers has agreed, the bill is sent to the Council of State. This runs through the King; the King authorizes the hearing of the Council of State. The Council of State is heard by the government as an independent advisor on all bills it submits to the States General, all international treaties it submits to the States General for approval and all general administrative measures before they are issued.
Step 3: States General Accompanied by the advice of the Council of State and an explanatory memorandum (a more detailed explanation of the law by the minister), the King submits a bill to the House of Representatives or, if required by law, to the United Assembly. The submission takes place by royal message, a letter of presentation signed by the King, for which the minister accepts responsibility, as evidenced by his signature of the explanatory memorandum. The government and the House of Representatives can amend ( amend ) a bill during the debate in the House of Representatives . If the House of Representatives has adopted a bill, amended or not, it is sent to the Senate. It can only adopt or reject the bill in its entirety.
Step 4: Government After the Senate has passed the bill, it still needs ratification by the government to become law. This ratification is effected by the King himself and one or more ministers. The ratification is formally seen as a Royal Decree. Ratification is very rarely refused. Given the secret of the palace, it is impossible to determine to what extent the King plays a role in this, but the King sometimes seems to strongly oppose. The act can only be signed by the King himself, unless the King is a minor or has been formally declared incapacitated; in those cases a regent assumes the royal authority.
This means, for example, that the signing ‘continues’ also during the Queen’s holidays or during a stay abroad. An employee of the Queen’s Office, which supports the Queen in handling government documents, is therefore invariably close to her in these situations. After the law has been signed by the King and the relevant ministers, the Minister of Justice publishes the law in the Official Gazette. This is the announcement. The original laws are kept by the Cabinet of the Queen.
Very many other rules are not established by the legislator in a formal sense, but by the government or a minister. The rules, established by the government, are usually called an Order in Council. An order in council is adopted by Royal Decree, having heard the Council of State. Rules issued by a minister are referred to as ministerial regulations.
In addition to the aforementioned regulations, which are established at a central level, there are rules originating from decentralized administrations. They often bear the name regulation. In the province, in principle, the Provincial Council adopts the provincial ordinances. In principle, the municipal council does this at the municipal level. There are also regulations of water board boards, the Social and Economic Council, the product boards and industrial boards (company bodies). Regulations contained in treaties and decisions originating from the offices of the European Union are becoming increasingly important. The latter are called directives and regulations.
List of Acronyms Related to Legislation