Plenary Sittings of the Federal Council
As a rule the Federal Council meets two weeks after a week of sittings of the National Council. Deliberations focus on the reports on the decisions and motions of the competent expert committees of the Federal Council entrusted with the preliminary deliberation on bills and state treaties adopted by the National Council and other items of business.
The Structure of a Federal Council Sitting
Plenary sittings of the Federal Council start with Question Time or a Debate on Matters of Topical Interest. During Question Time Members of the Federal Council address short oral questions to members of the Federal Government. In the Debate on Matters of Topical Interest also issues relating to the European Union can be raised.
Urgent Questions and deliberations on written answers to questions provide an opportunity to discuss matters of day-to-day politics. Provincial Governors and members of the Federal Government may at any time make statements on topical issues.
The Plenary of the Federal Council can address resolutions regarding political concerns to the Federal Government and set deadlines for the preliminary deliberation of a given subject by the competent expert committee. The Plenary also takes official note of reports of the Federal Government.
Objections of the Federal Council to National Council Decisions
The Plenary of the Federal Council, i.e. its 61 Members as a body, can raise objections, by a majority of votes, to bills adopted by the National Council or refuse to agree to them.
Upon request on the part of one quarter of the Members of the Federal Council or the Federal Government the President of the Federal Council has to convene the Council within five days, the agreed calendar of sittings notwithstanding.
Chairing the Federal Council
The sittings of the Federal Council are open to the public. They are chaired in rotation by the President and the Vice-Presidents of the Federal Council, who enforce compliance with the speaking time allotted to the Members and, when necessary, admonish speakers by a call to order or requiring him/her to speak to the point.