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Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

The Parliamentary Assembly is the deliberative body and the driving force of the Council of Europe, to which parliamentarians are appointed by the national parliaments of the Assembly's 47 member states.

The Assembly chooses its own agenda, and debates current social problems and aspects of international politics. It recommends policies for adoption which are then submitted to governments for action. Governments of member states are represented at the Council of Europe by the Committee of Ministers, and they are obliged to respond to the Parliamentary Assembly's recommendations. The Assembly sees itself as the driving force in extending European co-operation to all democratic states throughout Europe.

PACE meets four times a year for week-long Plenary sessions in Strasbourg. The 318 representatives and 318 substitutes are appointed by national parliaments from among their members. Each country, depending on its population, has between two and 18 representatives, who provide a balanced reflection of the political forces represented in the national parliament. In addition to English and French, which are the Council of Europe's official languages, PACE uses German, Italian and Russian as working languages.

The Assembly's work is prepared by 10 committees and by the Bureau comprising the President of the Assembly, the 20 Vice-Presidents, the chairs of the five political groups and the committee Chairpersons. The Assembly adopts three types of texts: recommendations (to the Committee of Ministers), resolutions (which express its own viewpoint) and opinions (on membership applications, draft treaties and other texts submitted by the Committee of Ministers).

The UK Delegation participates fully on the activities of the Assembly, contributes to debates in the Plenary and serves on each of the Assembly's committees.