PACE meets four times a year for week-long plenary sessions in Strasbourg. The 324 representatives and 324 substitutes are appointed by national parliaments from among their members.
The parliament of each country sends a delegation of between two and eighteen representatives, depending on the country's population, which must reflect the balance of political forces in the parliament. Under current rules, at least one representative must also be a woman.
Following a debate and voting, the Assembly adopts three types of text:
- Recommendations – these are addressed to the Committee of Ministers
- Resolutions – expressions of its own viewpoint
- Opinions – on membership applications, draft treaties or other issues referred to it
Its work is prepared by eight committees, which also meet between sessions to approve draft reports or hold hearings, and a Bureau. The Standing Committee – a smaller body acting in the name of the Assembly when it is not in session – can also adopt texts.
The life-cycle of a PACE report
* A motion on a particular topic is tabled by a group of members and, if approved, referred to a committee.
* The committee appoints a rapporteur, who – usually after visits or hearings – prepares a report which is first discussed by the committee.
* The Assembly debates the report and may amend the draft text or texts in it before voting to adopt or reject them.