Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions



On May 5, 1949 ten Governments[1] signed in London the Statute of a new kind of European organisation, the Council of Europe, with two main statutory bodies: the Committee of Ministers (a conventional ministerial organ) and the Parliamentary Assembly, representing the political forces in the Member States.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (the Assembly) is the oldest international parliamentary Assembly with a pluralistic composition of democratically elected members. It is also the most comprehensive European parliamentary forum, today with delegations from 47 national parliaments (plus 3 delegations holding observer status).

The Assembly consists of 318 elected representatives (and an equal number of substitutes) from the Member States of the Council of Europe. The number of representatives from each country varies from eighteen to two depending on its population.[2] They must be elected or appointed from among the members of their national or federal Parliament. The balance of political parties within each national delegation must ensure a fair representation of the political parties or groups in the respective parliaments.

At present, the Assembly counts five political groups: the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP/CD); the Socialist Group (SOC); the European Democrat Group (EDG); the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE); and the Group of the Unified European Left (UEL). Political groups have to commit themselves to respect the promotion of the values of the Council of Europe, notably political pluralism, human rights and the rule of law.

The President of the Assembly and the leaders of the groups form the Presidential Committee of the PACE.

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 of the Assembly.

The Standing Committee consists of the Bureau and the Chairpersons of national delegations. It is generally convened at least twice a year and its major task is to act on behalf of the Assembly when the latter is not in session.

The Assembly Committees are composed of representatives or substitutes of the Assembly. They are reconstituted in January of each year, and elect their chairperson and three vice-chairpersons.

At present, the Assembly has 8 committees with the following memberships:

[1]      These were: the five members of the Brussels Treaty, i.e. Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as well as the Governments of Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Norway and Sweden.

[2]      Parliamentary delegations with their number of representatives: Albania (4); Andorra (2); Armenia (4); Austria (6); Azerbaijan (6); Belgium (7); Bosnia and Herzegovina (5); Bulgaria (6); Croatia (5); Cyprus (3); Czech Republic (7); Denmark (5); Estonia (3); Finland (5); France (18); Georgia (5); Germany (18); Greece (7); Hungary (7); Iceland (3); Ireland (4); Italy (18); Latvia (3); Liechtenstein (2); Lithuania (4); Luxembourg (3); Malta (3); Moldova (5); Monaco (2); Montenegro (3); Netherlands (7); Norway (5); Poland (12); Portugal (7); Romania (10); Russian Federation (18); San Marino (2); Serbia (7); Slovakia (5).


The Assembly is the driving force of the Organisation in extending European co-operation to all democratic states throughout Europe. It has been behind many of the Organisation´s major initiatives such as the European Convention on Human Rights (1950) and the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (Oviedo Convention, 1997). It is consulted about the international treaties drawn up at the Council of Europe.

The Assembly speaks for 800 million Europeans citizens, acting as the democratic conscience of Greater Europe: External relations of the Assembly cover not only national parliaments of member and non-member states, but also international parliamentary assemblies and international intergovernmental organisations. The Assembly has developed its contacts with the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Benelux, the Nordic Council, PABSEC, CIS and others.

For many years the Assembly has also acted as a parliamentary forum for a certain number of intergovernmental organisations, in particular the OECD, and has developed close relations with specific organisations such as the EBRD and many of the specialised agencies of the United Nations.



The annual sessions of the Assembly are divided into four part-sessions, each lasting for about a week at the end of January, April, June and the beginning of October. The agenda for each part-session features debates on European and world events, and on key matters requiring action at European level. The Assembly´s plenary debates are held in public and they are conducted according to the principles commonly observed in national parliaments.


The Assembly can adopt three different types of texts: recommendations, resolutions and opinions. A two-thirds majority is required for questions such as a recommendation or an opinion to the Committee of Ministers or the adoption of urgent procedure. In respect of a resolution and any other decision, a majority of the votes cast is required. Recommendations, resolutions and opinions are published in a provisional edition after their adoption. A final version is published after each part-session in the official languages (English and French).


Committees meet most frequently either in Strasbourg or Paris, possibly in Brussels when a joint meeting with a body of the European Parliament is envisaged. Committee discussions are generally held in camera, but the committee is free to admit anybody to its meeting whom it wishes.

Although committees deal in particular with reports, they have great freedom to discuss any matter within their competence when they agree to do so. They organise hearings, colloquies or conferences on particular subjects, the findings of which can then be used for the preparation of reports to the Assembly.


In general, a motion for a recommendation or resolution generates reports. This motion has to be tabled by at least twenty representatives or substitutes belonging to at least five national delegations. It is then referred to a committee for report and possibly to other committees for opinion. The main committee then appoints a rapporteur who drafts a report, into two parts: Both parts are discussed in committee, but only the operational part is voted on. When a report has been adopted in the committee it is tabled for discussion by the Assembly either at a part-session or at a meeting of the Standing Committee.


The Assembly has always paid attention to science and technology and its work also covers topical and emerging issues in the field of science, scientific research, new technologies and their impact on sustainable development and society. These are dealt with by different Assembly committees.

The specific terms of reference of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media includes the task of maintaining working relations with the European Science Foundation and the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment Network. The committee deals with science and scientific research and the impact of scientific and technological development on society. The main focus of its work has been and remains the ethical principles and standards that should govern scientific research and the use of new technologies.

A General Rapporteur on Science and Technology Impact Assessment is appointed among the committee´s members with the following main tasks: to follow activities of other Assembly committees and liaise with rapporteurs dealing with scientific and technological matters from other perspectives such as their social, economic, health and environmental impact; to follow activities and maintain working relations with national parliaments as well as with relevant international, intergovernmental, inter-parliamentary or other organisations including the EPTA Network; and to report periodically back to the committee on the information collected and the action taken.

The Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development deals with health protection and the prevention of health risks; biomedicine, the impact on the environment/ecosystem of sectoral policies such as transport, energy, water management, and of new technologies such as nanotechnologies or technologies based on electromagnetic waves.

Although the Assembly does not directly implement technology assessment activities, its work in the field of science and technology is founded on the precautionary principle and seeks to promote the highest ethical principles and firm standards of transparency, independence and credibility in assessment, in order to guarantee human dignity and fundamental rights.






The ethics of science (Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media)
Nanotechnologies (Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development)


As for all the work of the Assembly, the key target groups are: Of course, all the Assembly reports are also intended to reach European citizens, in order to raise awareness and gain their support for policy proposals and guidelines addressed to state authorities.


The Assembly´s website [] gives regular information on the activities of parliamentarians, in Strasbourg and on the ground. It includes reports, adopted texts, records of debates and speeches. The plenary sessions are broadcast live.


Parliamentary Assembly
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex

Mr Roberto Fasino
Head of the Secretariat, PACE Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media

Fon  +33 3 88412373
Fax  +33 3 88412797

© EPTA, provided by ITA; version 19 Oct 2012