[COVID-19] Municipality governance during a state of health emergency
Updated information, as of the date of publication of this article
Analysis of the provisions resulting from:
- – Law No. 2020-290 of 23 March 2020, as a matter of urgency to deal with the covid-19 epidemic;
- – Ordinance No. 2020-306 of 25 March 2020, on the extension of time limits during the period of health emergency and the adaptation of procedures during the same period;
- – Ordinance No. 2020-330 of 25 March 2020, on measures to ensure budgetary, financial and fiscal continuity for local authorities and local public establishments in order to deal with the consequences of the covid-19 epidemic;
- – Ordinance No. 2020-319 of 25 March 2020, on various measures for adapting the rules for the award, procedure or fulfilment of contracts subject to the code of public procurement and public contracts not covered by it during the health crisis caused by the covid-19 epidemic;
- – Ordinance No. 2020-391 of 1 April 2020, aimed at ensuring the continuity of the functioning of local institutions and the exercise of the powers of local authorities and local public establishments in order to deal with the covid-19 epidemic;
The emergency law No. 2020-290 of 23 March 2020, to deal with the covid-19 epidemic, instituted a “state of health emergency” for a period of two months from its entry into force, i.e. until 24 May 2020.
What are the main changes brought about by the state of health emergency in terms of governance of Municipalities and Public Establishments for Intercommunal Cooperation?
1. Maintaining the results of the first round, postponing the second round, and postponing the mandates of the members elected in 2020:
1.1 Elections won in the first round
Elected officials whose election is “acquired” at the end of the first round of the municipal elections of 15 March 2020, will not see their elective mandate called into question.
However, their assumption of duties is postponed indefinitely.
1.2 Postponement of the second round to a date not yet determined
The second round is also postponed indefinitely. The Prime Minister must issue a decree before 27 May 2020 to convene the second round of voting, which is expected to take place in June 2020 at the latest, unless legislative postponement.
The second round will be based on the results of the first round of 15 March 2020.
If the second round were to be postponed beyond June 2020, a full ballot (two rounds) would then have to be held for those municipalities in which the first round was not decisive.
1.3 Retention in office of elected representatives for the 2014-2020 term until the start of the 2020-2026 term of office
For those elected in the first round, the entry in office is postponed “to a date fixed by decree no later than June 2020” (art. 19 of the law of 23 March 2020).
The emergency law specifies that even mayors and deputies who may have been appointed at municipal councils held between Friday 20 March and Sunday 22 March 2020 shall not take office before the date to be fixed by decree. 
The representatives elected for the 2014-2020 term of office therefore shall remain in office until the representatives elected for the 2020-2026 mandate have taken office.
The elected community representatives from the previous mandate shall also retain their functions until the new elected community representatives have taken office. 
The Law of 23 March 2020 also provides that the representatives of municipalities, EPCIs or closed joint unions in external bodies have their mandate extended until their replacements are appointed by the legislative body.
2. Provisional arrangements for local governance in a state of emergency:
2.1. Delegations of the Mayor
The Emergency Law has provided for the extension of the delegations granted to the mayor by the legislative body during the mandate that had just ended.
The Ordinance of 1 April 2020 goes further, by providing that the Mayor shall exercise by right, without the need for a deliberation, all the powers that the deliberative meetings may delegate, with the exception of the subscription of loans. By exception, the deliberative assemblies may, from their first meeting, modify or restrict the delegations and may, subject to acquired rights, reform the decisions of the Mayor taken by virtue of these delegations, extended for emergency purposes.
The Emergency Law also sets up an information mechanism for the elected representatives of the first round whose entry into office is delayed: they will receive a copy of all the decisions taken by the Mayor on delegation from the Council.
2.2. Votes of the deliberative assembly
The quorum rules are relaxed. The municipal council can deliberate with only one third of the members in office present. (art. 10 of the law of 23 March 2020).
Electronic voting or voting by correspondence is allowed.
The proceedings of the city council meeting can be publicized live, electronically. (Art. 6 of the Ordinance of 1 April 2020)
2.3 Postponement of certain management deadlines and easing of administrative procedures
Certain deadlines, relating to the adoption of budgetary decisions and the setting of public service tariffs and local taxes, have been postponed (Ordinance No. 2020-330 of 25 March 2020).
The rules relating to the award and execution of public procurement contracts are relaxed (Ordinance No. 2020-319 of 25 March 2020).
The deadlines for applications to administrative authorities, such as building permits, are suspended (Ordinance No. 2020-306 of 25 March 2020).
According to the Directorate General of Local Authorities , the functional allowances of outgoing elected officials should be maintained if they are still in office, while newly elected officials will only be able to benefit from their functional allowance from the effective start of their term of office.
1] Article 19 of the Law provides that “V. – In the municipalities for which the municipal council has been fully elected in the first round, the designations and deliberations duly adopted at the first meeting of the municipal council mentioned in the second paragraph of Article L. 2127-7 of the General Code of Territorial Communities shall take effect from the date of entry into office of the municipal and community councilors elected in the first round, as set out in the first sentence of the first paragraph of III of this Article. »
Article 19 specifies that “By way of derogation, in municipalities of less than 1,000 inhabitants for which the municipal council has not been elected in its entirety, the municipal councilors elected in the first round shall take office the day after the second round of the election or, if this does not take place, under the conditions laid down by the law mentioned in the third paragraph of I of this article. »
2] For EPCIs where not all community councilors have been elected after the first round of municipal elections, there will be a transitional period between the taking office of the community councilors elected in the first round and those elected in the second round.
During this period, new community councilors will sit (final election in the 1st round) along with some of those appointed in 2014 (municipalities that have yet to hold a 2nd round).
The community council will therefore be joint, until the community councilors elected in the second round can take office.
- – Adoption of the initial budget: deadline of 31 July 2020 as opposed to 15 or 30 April 2020.
- – Shutdown of the 2019 administrative account: deadline of 31 July 2020 versus 30 June 2020.
- – Budgetary information for local elected representatives: the deadlines for submitting the budget orientation report (ROB) and holding the budget orientation debate (DOB) are suspended. They will be able to speak during the session devoted to the adoption of the initial budget.
- – Voting of local tax rates and tariffs by local authorities (TFPB, TFPNB, CFE, TEOM, GEMAPI, etc.): deadline extended to 3 July 2020.
- – Adoption of the coefficient of the local tax on final consumption of electricity (TCFE): date postponed from 1 July 2020 to 1 October 2020.
- – Fixing the rates of the local tax on outdoor advertising (TLPE): deadline of October 1, 2020 vs. July 1, 2020.