In the presidential and legislative elections, radical centrist party En Marche! France uses a civil legal system;  that is, law arises primarily from written statutes; judges are not to make law, but merely to interpret it though the amount of judicial interpretation in certain areas makes it equivalent to case law.
Basic principles of the rule of law were laid in the Napoleonic Code which was, in turn, largely based on the royal law codified under Louis XIV. In agreement with the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, law should only prohibit actions detrimental to society.
As Guy Canivet , first president of the Court of Cassation , wrote about the management of prisons: Freedom is the rule, and its restriction is the exception; any restriction of Freedom must be provided for by Law and must follow the principles of necessity and proportionality.
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That is, Law should lay out prohibitions only if they are needed, and if the inconveniences caused by this restriction do not exceed the inconveniences that the prohibition is supposed to remedy. French law is divided into two principal areas: private law and public law. Private law includes, in particular, civil law and criminal law. Public law includes, in particular, administrative law and constitutional law. However, in practical terms, French law comprises three principal areas of law: civil law, criminal law, and administrative law. Criminal laws can only address the future and not the past criminal ex post facto laws are prohibited.
France does not recognise religious law as a motivation for the enactment of prohibitions. France has long had neither blasphemy laws nor sodomy laws the latter being abolished in Since , civil unions for homosexual couples are permitted, and since May , same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption are legal in France.
Some consider however that hate speech laws in France are too broad or severe and damage freedom of speech.
Freedom of religion is constitutionally guaranteed by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Nonetheless, it does recognize religious associations.
The Parliament has listed many religious movements as dangerous cults since , and has banned wearing conspicuous religious symbols in schools since In , it banned the wearing of face-covering Islamic veils in public ; human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch described the law as discriminatory towards Muslims. France is a founding member of the United Nations and serves as one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto rights.
Postwar French foreign policy has been largely shaped by membership of the European Union, of which it was a founding member. Since the s , France has developed close ties with reunified Germany to become the most influential driving force of the EU. However, since , France has maintained an " Entente cordiale " with the United Kingdom , and there has been a strengthening of links between the countries, especially militarily.
France is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation NATO , but under President de Gaulle, it excluded itself from the joint military command to protest the special relationship between the United States and Britain and to preserve the independence of French foreign and security policies. However, as a result of Nicolas Sarkozy's pro-American politics much criticised in France by the leftists and by a part of the right , France re-joined the NATO joint military command on 4 April In the early s, the country drew considerable criticism from other nations for its underground nuclear tests in French Polynesia.
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In , France was the fourth-largest in absolute terms donor of development aid in the world, behind the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. This represents 0. Together they are among the largest armed forces in the world and the largest in the EU. While the Gendarmerie is an integral part of the French armed forces gendarmes are career soldiers , and therefore under the purview of the Ministry of the Armed Forces , it is operationally attached to the Ministry of the Interior as far as its civil police duties are concerned.
When acting as general purpose police force, the Gendarmerie encompasses the counter terrorist units of the Parachute Intervention Squadron of the National Gendarmerie Escadron Parachutiste d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale , the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale , the Search Sections of the National Gendarmerie Sections de Recherche de la Gendarmerie Nationale , responsible for criminal enquiries, and the Mobile Brigades of the National Gendarmerie Brigades mobiles de la Gendarmerie Nationale , or in short Gendarmerie mobile which have the task to maintain public order.
There has been no national conscription since France has a special military corps, the French Foreign Legion , founded in , which consists of foreign nationals from over countries who are willing to serve in the French Armed Forces and become French citizens after the end of their service period. The only other countries having similar units are Spain the Spanish Foreign Legion, called Tercio , was founded in and Luxembourg foreigners can serve in the National Army provided they speak Luxembourgish.
France is a permanent member of the Security Council of the UN , and a recognised nuclear state since French nuclear deterrence, formerly known as " Force de Frappe " , relies on complete independence. The current French nuclear force consists of four Triomphant class submarines equipped with submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
France has major military industries with one of the largest aerospace industries in the world. France is a major arms seller,   with most of its arsenal's designs available for the export market with the notable exception of nuclear-powered devices. Other smaller parades are organised across the country. The Government of France has run a budget deficit each year since the early s. As of [update] , French government debt levels reached 2.
A member of the Group of Seven formerly Group of Eight leading industrialised countries, as of [update] , it is ranked as the world's tenth largest and the EU's second largest economy by purchasing power parity. France has a mixed economy that combines extensive private enterprise   with substantial state enterprise and government intervention.
The government retains considerable influence over key segments of infrastructure sectors, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, nuclear power and telecommunications. As of [update] , the World Trade Organization WTO reported France was the world's sixth largest exporter and the fourth largest importer of manufactured goods. Financial services, banking and the insurance sector are an important part of the economy. Three largest financial institutions cooperatively owned by their customers are located in France. France is a member of the Eurozone around million consumers which is part of the European Single Market more than million consumers.
Several domestic commercial policies are determined by agreements among European Union EU members and by EU legislation. France introduced the common European currency, the Euro in French companies have maintained key positions in the insurance and banking industries: AXA is the world's largest insurance company. France has historically been a large producer of agricultural products. Wheat, poultry, dairy, beef, and pork, as well as internationally recognised processed foods are the primary French agricultural exports.
Agriculture is an important sector of France's economy: 3. It is third in income from tourism due to shorter duration of visits.
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France, especially Paris, has some of the world's largest and most renowned museums, including the Louvre , which is the most visited art museum in the world 5. Disneyland Paris is Europe's most popular theme park, with 15 million combined visitors to the resort's Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park in France has 37 sites inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List and features cities of high cultural interest, beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquillity green tourism.
The " Remarkable Gardens " label is a list of the over gardens classified by the French Ministry of Culture. This label is intended to protect and promote remarkable gardens and parks. France attracts many religious pilgrims on their way to St. France is the smallest emitter of carbon dioxide among the G8 , due to its heavy investment in nuclear power.
Rail connections exist to all other neighbouring countries in Europe, except Andorra. French roads also handle substantial international traffic, connecting with cities in neighbouring Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Andorra and Monaco. There is no annual registration fee or road tax ; however, usage of the mostly privately owned motorways is through tolls except in the vicinity of large communes. There are airports in France. Air France is the national carrier airline, although numerous private airline companies provide domestic and international travel services.
There are ten major ports in France, the largest of which is in Marseille ,  which also is the largest bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Since the Middle Ages , France has been a major contributor to scientific and technological achievement. Around the beginning of the 11th century, Pope Sylvester II , born Gerbert d'Aurillac, reintroduced the abacus and armillary sphere , and introduced Arabic numerals and clocks to Northern and Western Europe. They were both key figures of the Scientific Revolution , which blossomed in Europe during this period.
It was at the forefront of scientific developments in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is one of the earliest academies of sciences. Other eminent French scientists of the 19th century have their names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower. Hand transplantation was developed on 23 September in Lyon by a team assembled from different countries around the world including Jean-Michel Dubernard who, shortly thereafter, performed the first successful double hand transplant.
Bernard Devauchelle. France was the fourth country to achieve nuclear capability  and has the third largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. It also owns Minatec , Europe's leading nanotechnology research center. The TGV has been the fastest wheeled train in commercial use since reaching a speed of As of [update] , 69 French people have been awarded a Nobel Prize  and 12 have received the Fields Medal.
With an estimated total population of France is also second most populous country in the European Union after Germany. France is an outlier among developed countries in general, and European countries in particular, in having a fairly high rate of natural population growth: by birth rates alone, France was responsible for almost all natural population growth in the European Union in , with the natural growth rate excess of births over deaths rising to , and with the immigration the population grew with almost , people,  although in the late s it fell to , This was the highest rate since the end of the baby boom in , and coincides with the rise of the total fertility rate from a nadir of 1.
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As of January [update] the fertility rate was 1. Large-scale immigration over the last century and a half has led to a more multicultural society. A law originating from the revolution and reaffirmed in the French Constitution makes it illegal for the French state to collect data on ethnicity and ancestry. There are also sizeable minorities of other European ethnic groups , namely Spanish , Portuguese , Polish , and Greek.
France has a significant Gypsy Gitan population, numbering between 20, and , France remains a major destination for immigrants, accepting about , legal immigrants annually. Thus, nearly a fifth of the country's population were either first or second-generation immigrants, of which more than 5 million were of European origin and 4 million of Maghrebi ancestry. According to the French Institute, this increase resulting from the financial crisis that hit several European countries in that period, has pushed up the number of Europeans installed in France.