Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The emblem of the PACE

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which held its first session in Strasbourg on 10 August 1949, can be considered the oldest international parliamentary assembly with a pluralistic composition of democratically elected members of parliament established on the basis of an intergovernmental treaty. The Assembly is one of the two statutory organs of the Council of Europe, which is composed of the Committee of Ministers (the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, meeting usually at the level of their deputies) and the Assembly representing the political forces (majority and opposition) in its member states.



The hemicycle of the PACE at the Palace of Europe

Unlike the European Parliament (an institution of the European Union), which was created after the model of the PACE and also meets in Strasbourg for its plenary sessions (prior to 1999, in the PACE hemicycle), its powers extend only to the ability to investigate, recommend and advise. Even so, its recommendations on issues such as human rights have significant weight in the European political context. The European Parliament and other European Union institutions often refer to the work of PACE, especially in the field of human rights, legal co-operation and cultural co-operation.

Important statutory functions of the PACE are the election of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the judges of the European Court of Human Rights and the members of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

In general it meets 4 times per year at Strasbourg at the Palace of Europe for a week. The 10 permanent commissions of the Assembly meet all year long to prepare reports and projects for resolutions in their respective fields of expertise.

The Assembly sets its own agenda. It discusses European and international events and examines current subjects which interest the populations of the countries of Europe. The main themes covered are human rights, democracy, protection of minorities and the rule of law.


It has a total of 642 members – 321 principal members and 321 substitutes [1] - who are representatives of each member state. There are also 18 delegates from the Canadian, Israeli and Mexican observers. The size of each country determines its number of representatives and number of votes. This is in contrast in the committee of ministers, where each country has one vote.

Each State member selects its method of designating its representatives to the parliamentary assembly; however, they must be chosen from among the members of the respective Parliaments. Moreover, the political composition of each national delegation must reflect the representation of the different parties within the respective parliaments.

Some notable members of PACE include:

Composition by country

Country Seats Accession date
Albania Albania 4 1995
Andorra Andorra 2 1994
Armenia Armenia 4 2001
Austria Austria 6 1956
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan 6 2001
Belgium Belgium 7 1949
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 5 2002
Bulgaria Bulgaria 6 1992
Croatia Croatia 5 1996
Cyprus Cyprus 3 1961
Czech Republic Czech Republic 7 1991
Denmark Denmark 5 1949
Estonia Estonia 3 1993
Finland Finland 5 1989
France France 18 1949
Georgia (country) Georgia 5 1999
Germany Germany 18 1951
Greece Greece 7 1949
Hungary Hungary 7 1990
Iceland Iceland 3 1959
Republic of Ireland Ireland 4 1949
Italy Italy 18 1949
Latvia Latvia 3 1995
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein 2 1978
Lithuania Lithuania 4 1993
Luxembourg Luxembourg 3 1949
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia 3 1995
Malta Malta 3 1965
Moldova Moldova 5 1995
Monaco Monaco 2 2004
Montenegro Montenegro 3 2007[4]
Netherlands Netherlands 7 1949
Norway Norway 5 1949
Poland Poland 12 1991
Portugal Portugal 7 1976
Romania Romania 10 1993
Russia Russia 18 1996
San Marino San Marino 2 1988
Serbia Serbia 7 2003
Slovakia Slovakia 5 1993[5]
Slovenia Slovenia 3 1993
Spain Spain 12 1977
Sweden Sweden 6 1949
Switzerland Switzerland 6 1963
Turkey Turkey 12 1949
Ukraine Ukraine 12 1995
United Kingdom United Kingdom 18 1949

Countries with observer status

Country Seats Date
Canada Canada 6 1996[6]
Israel Israel 3  ?
Mexico Mexico  ? 1999
Northern Cyprus Northern Cyprus as "Turkish Cypriot Community" 2 2004[7]

Canada (1996), Holy See (1970), Israel, Japan (1996), Mexico (1999), Turkish Cypriot Community (2004) and United States (1995) have observer status [8].

The special guest status of Belarus was suspended on 13 January 1997.

Composition by party groups

The assembly has five political groups.

Group Ideology Chairman Members
European People's Party Christian democracy, liberal conservatism Luca Volontè 218
Socialist Group Social democracy, democratic socialism Andreas Gross 206
European Democrat Group Conservatism Robert Walter 115
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Liberalism Anne Brasseur 103
Group of the Unified European Left Democratic socialism, communism Tiny Kox 31


The official languages of the council of Europe are English and French, but the assembly also uses German and Italian as working languages. At the plenary sessions (which last one week and take place four times per year), the available languages are English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Greek and Spanish, for which there are interpreters. Each member of Parliament has individual headphones and a controller for him to chose the desired language. Foreign guests who speak another language must either express themselves in one of the two official languages, or bring their own interpreter. In spite of this seemingly idealistic and relatively expensive operation, it appears that the majority of the interventions in the assembly are done in English.[citation needed]


The presidents of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have been :

Period Name Country Party
1949 Édouard Herriot (interim)  France Radical Party
1949-51 Paul-Henri Spaak  Belgium Socialist Party
1952-54 François de Menthon  France Popular Republican Movement
1954-56 Guy Mollet  France Socialist Party
1956-59 Fernand Dehousse  Belgium Socialist Party
1959 John Edwards  United Kingdom Labour Party
1960-63 Per Federspiel  Denmark Venstre
1963-66 Pierre Pflimlin  France Popular Republican Movement
1966-69 Sir Geoffrey de Freitas  United Kingdom Labour Party
1969-72 Olivier Reverdin  Switzerland Liberal Party
1972-75 Giuseppe Vedovato  Italy Christian Democracy
1975-78 Karl Czernetz  Austria Social Democratic Party
1978-81 Hans J. de Koster  Netherlands People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
1981-82 José Maria de Areilza  Spain Union of the Democratic Centre
1983-86 Karl Ahrens  Germany Social Democratic Party
1986-89 Louis Jung  France Centre of Social Democrats
1989-92 Andreas Björck  Sweden Liberal People's Party
1992 Geoffrey Finsberg  United Kingdom Conservative Party
1992-95 Miguel Angel Martinez Martinez  Spain Socialist Workers' Party
1996-99 Leni Fischer  Germany Christian Democratic Union
1999–2002 Russell Johnston  United Kingdom Liberal Democrats
2002–2004 Peter Schieder  Austria Social Democratic Party
2005–2008 René van der Linden  Netherlands Christian Democratic Appeal
2008–2010 Lluís Maria De Puig  Spain Socialist Workers' Party
2010- Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu  Turkey Justice and Development Party

The Secretary General of the Assembly is Mateo Sorinas (Spain) since 1 February 2006.

See also


  1. ^ This number is fixed by article 26.
  2. ^
  3. ^ (Italian) [1]
  4. ^ previously part of Serbia and Montenegro: member since 2003
  5. ^ Previously part of Czechoslovakia, member since 1991
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ Resolution 1376 (2004) Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
  8. ^ [3]

Further reading

  • (French) Le Conseil de l'Europe, Jean-Louis Burban, publisher PUF, collection « Que sais-je ? », n° 885.

External links

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