- Parliamentary representation
- Political groups
- The Bureau
- The Standing Committee
- The Joint Committee
- Assembly Committees
- Composition and working methods of committees
1. Parliamentary representation
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
of a number of
from each member State, with a President elected each year from among
them for a maximum period of three sessions. The present President is
René van der Linden (Netherlands, EPP/CD) a Member of the Dutch
parliament. He was elected in January 2005.
Whilst in the Committee of Ministers each member State
has one vote, in the Parliamentary Assembly the number of representatives
and consequently of votes is determined by the size of the country. The
biggest number is eighteen, the smallest two. As there are an equal number
of representatives and substitutes, the total number of members of the
Assembly is therefore 630, plus 18 Observers.
They are appointed to the PACE in
a manner, which is left to be decided by each member state, as long as
they are elected within their national or federal Parliament, or appointed
from amongst the members of that parliament. The balance of political
parties within each national delegation must ensure a fair representation
of the political parties or groups in their national parliaments.
2. Political groups
In order to develop a non-national European outlook,
the formation of political groups in the Parliamentary Assembly has been
promoted and from 1964 onwards they were granted certain rights within
the Rules of Procedure. At present the Assembly counts five political
groups: the Socialist Group (SOC); the Group of the European People's
Party (EPP/CD); Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE);
the European Democrat Group (EDG) and the Group of the Unified European
Left (UEL). Political Groups have to commit themselves to respect the
of the values of the Council of Europe, notably political pluralism,
human rights and the rule of law. To form a Group, at least twenty
members of at least six different delegations have to decide to do so.
of the Assembly are entirely free to choose the Group they wish to
join. Before deciding they can attend meetings of one or several groups
should not be bound by their national party label but choose the group
which best suits their political affinities. The President of the Assembly
and the leaders of the groups form the Presidential Committee of the
3. The Bureau
The President, twenty Vice-Presidents, the Chairpersons
of the political groups or their representatives as well as the Chairpersons
of the general PACE Committees or their substitutes make up the Bureau
the Assembly. The big countries have a permanent seat in the Bureau;
the smaller countries take turns. The duties of the Bureau are manifold:
preparation of the Assembly's agenda, reference of documents to committees,
arrangement of day-to-day business, relations with other international
4. The Standing Committee
The Standing Committee consists of the Bureau, the
Chairpersons of national delegations and the Chairpersons of the general
committees. It is generally convened at least twice a year and its major
task is to act on behalf of the PACE when the latter is not in session.
Each year one of the Standing Committee meetings, together with a number
of other committees, takes place normally in one of the member states.
5. The Joint Committee
The Joint Committee is the forum set up to co-ordinate
the activities of, and maintain good relations between, the Committee
of Ministers and the Assembly.
It is composed of a representative of each member Government
and a corresponding number of representatives of the Assembly (the members
of the Bureau and one representative of each parliamentary delegation
of member States not represented on the Bureau).
6. Assembly Committees
According to its Rules of Procedure, the PACE has
10 committees with either 83 or 51 seats :
- Legal Affairs and Human Rights: 83
Affairs and Development: 83
Health and Family Affairs: 83
Refugees and Population: 83
Science and Education: 83
Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs: 83
Opportunities for Women and Men: 83
of Procedure and Immunities: 51
Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by member
states of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee): 83
The Bureau and the Standing Committee do
not count in this list. At times there are also ad hoc committees directly
to the Bureau. In the interest of its work, a committee may also appoint
one or more standing or ad hoc sub-committees, of which it shall determine
the exact composition and competence at the time of their appointment.
Membership must not be more than one third of the total number of members
of the parent committee. Sub-committees do not adopt reports. Their decisions
are submitted to the plenary committee, which appointed it.
7. Composition and working methods
Committees are composed of representatives or substitutes
of the Assembly. All committees (with the exception of the Committee
on the Honouring of obligations and commitments by member states, known
as the Monitoring Committee) have an equal number of Alternates of the
same nationality who have the same rights although they may not be elected
chairperson of that committee. Other members of the same nationality
can replace absent members of the committee.
Nominations to committees are proposed by national
delegations and ratified by the PACE, the Committee on the Honouring
of obligations and commitments by member States of the Council of Europe
(Monitoring Committee) being an exception.
At the beginning of each session, i.e. in January of
each year, the committees are reconstituted and elect their chairperson
and three vice-chairpersons. The chairperson can be re-elected twice,
i.e. remain in office for a maximum of three sessions only.
In general, a committee can work when one third of
its members are present.
Its discussions are held in camera, but the committee
is free to admit anybody to its meeting whom it wishes. Secretaries to
national delegations may attend the meetings of committees, except for
those of the Monitoring Committee.