Items of Business in the National Council
Kinds of Items of Business
The National Council Rules of Procedure Law governs the activities of the National Council and lays down the “rules of the game“. It lists in detail the items of business to be dealt with by the National Council. In addition to bills these include
- Motions for a resolution,
- State treaties,
- Questions and answers thereto,
- Reports of the Federal Government, the Court of Audit and the Ombudsman Board,
- Petitions and citizens’ initiatives,
- Statements by Members of the Federal Government,
- Debates on EU matters,
- Stenographic records of parliamentary hearings and
- Objections raised by the Federal Council.
Bills can be introduced by the Members themselves, the Government, the Federal Council, the National Council Committees or – in the form of a popular initiative – by the citizens.
With but few exceptions these items of business are documents in writing which are communicated to the Members electronically and published as annexes to the stenographic records. With the exception of petitions and citizens’ initiatives these items of business are considered part of the proceedings, which means that they are covered by the substantive immunity clause, i.e. that nobody shall be held liable, especially under penal law, for publishing true accounts of them.
The EU as an Item of Business
The Rules of Procedure of the National Council also contain special provisions regarding deliberations on EU matters. Thus, special Debates on EU Matters of Topical Interest are held four times a year, and EU statements by Members of the Federal Government followed by a debate are made twice a year in temporal proximity to EU Summits.