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Federal Law on the Rules of Procedure of the National Council

Rules of Procedure Law of 1975

Promulgations: BGBl. [Federal Law Gazette] No. 410/1975 as amended in BGBl. Nos 302/1979, 353/1986, 720/1988, 569/1993, 438/1996 and BGBl. I Nos 131/1997, 163/1998, 29/2005, 31/2009, 11/2010, 12/2010, 114/2011, 66/2012, 31/2013, 131/2013, 132/2013, 6/2014, 99/2014 and 62/2015

VI. Establishment of Committees and Consideration of Business during Their Meetings

§ 29. (1) The National Council shall elect the Main Committee from among its Members in accordance with the principles of proportional representation.

(2) The Main Committee shall, in particular, have the following duties:

(a) to reach agreement with the Federal Government concerning Austria's participation in appointing members of the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Court of Auditors and the Board of Directors of the European Investment Bank under Art. 23c (2) B-VG;

(b) to adopt opinions on projects of the European Union under Art. 23e and Art. 23j B-VG;

(c) to address communications to the organs of the European Union under Art. 23f B-VG;

(d) to adopt reasoned opinions on draft legislative acts of the European Union under Art. 23g B-VG;

(e) to deliberate preliminarily on a motion to bring action under § 26a;

(f) to deliberate preliminarily on a motion to hold a referendum under Art. 49b B-VG;

(g) to reach agreement with the Federal Government or a Federal Minister concerning such regulations as require such agreement under Federal Law in accordance with Art. 55 B-VG;

(h) to receive reports of the Federal Government or a Federal Minister to the extent this is required by Federal Law in accordance with Art. 55 B-VG;

(i) to propose a candidate for the election of the President of the Court of Audit under Art. 122 (4) B-VG;

(j) to propose a list of candidates for election as members of the Ombudsman Board under Art. 148g (2) B-VG;

(k) to propose a list of candidates for election as members of the Parliamentary Federal Army Commission under § 4 (9) Wehrgesetz/Defence Act 2001.

§ 30. (1) The number of members of the Main Committee shall be determined by decision of the National Council.

(2) The members of the Main Committee shall be elected from list submitted to the President.

(3) The number of Members on each list who shall become members of the Main Committee shall be proportional to the number of Members that have signed these lists. Each Member must not sign more than one list. The order in which Members' names are given on the slates shall decide, in the first place, on whether or not they have been elected.

(4) The assignment of the number of Members corresponding to each list shall be done by means of a denominator (Wahlzahl), which shall be determined as follows: The numbers of Members having signed the individual lists are written side by side in decreasing order of magnitude; beneath these totals are written one half of the respective number, then one third, one quarter and any further fractions that may be necessary. If the number of seats on the Committee is ten, the denominator shall be the tenth highest number, in the case of eleven committee seats, the eleventh highest, in the case of twelve seats, the twelfth highest number etc. The number of members assigned to each list shall then be the quotient of the number of Members that have signed the respective list divided by the denominator.

(5) Any Committee member unable to exercise his/her function on the Committee shall be replaced by a Member to be designated to the President in writing by those Members who have signed the respective list.

§ 31. (1) The Main Committee shall elect a Standing Sub-Committee which shall have the duties laid down in Arts. 18 (3) and 55 (3) B-VG as well as a Standing Sub-Committee which shall, in accordance with the provisions of this Federal Law, have competence to deal with projects within the framework of the European Union (Standing Sub-Committee on European Union Affairs). Elections shall be governed by the principles laid down in § 30; however, each Sub-Committee shall have among its members at least one member of each of the Parties represented on the Main Committee.

(2) A substitute member shall be elected for each of the members of the Standing Sub-Committees. The members and substitute members of the Standing Sub-Committees shall retain their seats until the Main Committee of the National Council has elected other members and substitute members to sit on the Standing Sub-Committees.

§ 31a. The Main Committee shall without delay deal with submissions under § 29 (2) a and g. Once agreement has been reached between the Federal Government (Federal Minister) and the Main Committee, the competent Federal Minister shall publish the new provisions, making due reference to the agreement of the Main Committee.

§ 31b. (1) Proposals under Art. 23c (2) B-VG shall be distributed to the members of the Main Committee. Decisions of the Main Committee under Art. 23c (2) B-VG and communications under Art. 23c (5) B-VG shall be distributed to the Members of the National Council.

(2) Information on Projects of the European Union shall be guided by the provisions of Art. 23e to 23j B-VG and the provisions of the EU Information Act, BGBl I No. 113/2011, unless otherwise provided for in the present Act.

(3) Bills, documents, reports, items of information and communications on projects within the framework of the European Union that are not classified shall be collected and stored in the EU database under § 1 para 2 of the EU Information Act. Collection and storage shall count as distribution within the meaning of the present Act. 

(4) Bills, documents, reports, items of information and communications on projects within the framework of the European Union classified as “Restreint UE/EU Restricted” shall be collected and stored in the EU database.

(5) Bills, documents, reports, items of information and communications on projects within the framework of the European Union available in the database under § 2 (1 and 2) of the EU Information Act may be accessed by Members of the National Council. Access to these documents by persons designated by the Parliamentary Groups and by employees of the Parliamentary Administration shall be subject to the provisions of the Information Rules Act.

(6) The handling and distribution of other bills, documents, reports, items of information and communications on projects within the framework of the European Union shall be governed by the Information Rules Act.

§ 31c. (1) Projects of the European Union under Art. 23e and 23j B-VG (§ 29 (2) b) on which the competent Federal Ministers have to inform the National Council, reports of the competent Federal Minister under Art. 23e (3), in so far as an opinion has been adopted in accordance with this provision, and all documents relating to projects of the European Union that have been directly transmitted to the national parliaments by Organs of the European Union shall be items of business to be deliberated in the Main Committee.

(2) Within the scope of a session, the chairperson shall convene a sitting of the Main Committee on European Union Affairs in such a way that the Main Committee can meet within two weeks if the competent Federal Minister or 20 Members of the National Council so demand, with the proviso that each Member can second such demand only once a year.

(3) Apart from § 34 (4), a project of the European Union under Art. 23e and 23j B-VG and/or a report under Art. 23e (3) B-VG shall be placed on the agenda of a Main Committee if

1. the competent Federal Minister so demands or 2. 20 Members of the National Council so demand or

3. a member of the Main Committee so demands at least 48 hours before a sitting and if the project is likely to be decided upon at the next meeting of the Council of the European Union, with the proviso that members of the same parliamentary group can make such a demand only once.

(4) On condition that the period fixed in Art. 6 of the Protocol on the Application of the Principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality has not yet lapsed, a draft of a legislative act of the European Union under Art. 23g (1) B-VG shall be placed on the agenda if a member of the Main Committee so demands at least 48 hours before a sitting. Para. 12 below shall not apply to such a demand.

(5) At the beginning or during the course of a sitting, the chairperson may, upon decision of the Main Committee, change the order of the items on the Main Committee's agenda.

(6) Deliberations of the Main Committee on projects within the framework of the European Union shall be confidential or secret under § 37a if the provisions of the European Union concerning the secrecy of such projects or of documents relating thereto so require.

(7) Deliberations of the Main Committee on European Union Affairs shall be open to the public under § 37a (1) [2]. 

(8) Summary records of the deliberations of the Main Committee on European Union Affairs shall be taken down unless the Committee otherwise decides. Summary records of those parts of the deliberations which are open to the public shall be published as annex to the Stenographic Records.

(9) The Members of the European Parliament elected in Austria shall have the right to attend the deliberations of the Main Committee on European Union Affairs in an advisory capacity.

(10) After written notification of the chairperson, a member of the Main Committee may be represented by a Member of his/her Parliamentary Group in deliberations on matters of the European Union.

(11) The speaking time for Members of the National Council and Members of the European Parliament elected in Austria shall be determined by a decision taken at the beginning of the sitting upon proposal of the Chairperson. In taking the decision, consideration shall be given to the strengths of the individual Parliamentary Groups represented on the Committee as well as to the number of Members of the European Parliament elected in Austria including those Members of the European Parliament who do not belong to a Parliamentary Group or any Parliamentary Group represented on the Committee.

(12) Once it is evident that a project under § 31c (1) is to be deliberated in a sitting of the Main Committee on European Union Affairs or the Standing Sub-Committee on European Union Affairs under § 31e (1) as an agenda item, the President shall request the competent Federal Minister to supply written information under the provisions of the EU Information Act.

(13) If a parliamentary group represented in the Main Committee so demands, the President shall request the competent Federal Minister to supply written information on a European document in accordance with the provisions of the EU Information Act. The President shall decide, after consultation of the President’s Conference, how many such demands may be made by each parliamentary group, each of which shall have the right to make at least three such demands per year. Additionally, each parliamentary group may demand to be informed in writing on an imminent decision on matters under § 5 (1) to (5) EU Information Act, with the proviso that only one such demand may be made regarding any such imminent decision.

(14) The Main Committee may, through its President, request from the competent Federal Minister a statement under Art. 23g (2) B-VG on the compatibility of a draft legislative act of the European Union with the principle of subsidiarity.

§ 31d. (1) The Main Committee may

1. adopt, on one or several occasions, opinions under Art. 23e (1) B-VG on projects within the framework of the European Union, decide on communications to Organs of the European Union under Art. 23f (4) B-VG and adopt reasoned opinions under Art. 23g (1) B-VG;

2. object to any intended departure, under Art. 23e (3) B-VG, on the part of the competent Federal Minister, if the legal act in preparation were to require passage of provisions at the level of federal constitutional law, or if it contains elements that could only be adopted by such provisions.

3. take note, or refuse to take note, of reports of the competent Federal Minister under Art. 23e (3) B-VG on any such departure from an opinion adopted by the National Council.

(2) Before entering upon a debate of a project within the framework of the European Union the chairman may give the floor to the competent Federal Minister or a staff member of his/her Ministry delegated by him/her for an introductory report on the project in hand and the Federal Minister's position on it.

(3) Once the debate has been opened, any member of the Main Committee may introduce in writing the following motions for decisions in accordance with (1) above:

1. Motions for opinions under Art. 23e B-VG shall contain statements as to whether the project is aimed at enacting a binding legal act that would affect the passing of Federal Laws concerning matters regulated by the legal act, whether it would require the passing of provisions at the level of constitutional law, or whether it contains elements that could only be adopted by such provisions.

2. Motions for adoption of a communication under Art. 23f (4) B-VG shall designate precisely the projects under § 31c (1) to which the communication refers as well as the addressees and other recipients of the communication.

3. Motions for a reasoned opinion under Art. 23g (1) B-VG shall also contain statements on why the project is incompatible with the subsidiarity principle.

(4) The President of the National Council shall without delay

1. transmit opinions and other decisions of the Main Committee on EU Affairs to all members of the Federal Government,

2. transmit communications under Art 23f (4) B-VG to the respective addressees and other recipients,

3. transmit reasoned opinions under Art. 23g (1) B-VG to the Presidents of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission.

Unless the Main Committee decides otherwise, opinions and decisions shall also be distributed to the President of the Federal Council, all Members of the National Council and the Austrian Members of the European Parliament.

(5) The Main Committee may decide that a project or report on matters of the European Union should be deliberated by the National Council. In this case the Main Committee shall present a report, which may contain motions under (1) above as well as motions under § 27 (1 and 3). Such reports and the motions contained therein shall constitute items of business of the National Council.

(5a) The Main Committee may furthermore adopt a report on a project concerning EU matters which is to be referred to another committee for preliminary deliberation. The submission of such reports shall be governed, mutatis mutandis, by § 42. The President shall immediately refer such a report to the committee indicated for preliminary deliberation. Once the report has been referred, the Main Committee may no longer adopt motions under § 27 (1 or 3) on the respective EU project; decisions under (1) above are still possible. 

(6) The Main Committee may decide in what way the competent member of the Federal Government who wishes to depart under Art. 23e (3) B-VG from an opinion adopted by the National Council can bring the matter before the Main Committee for reconsideration. In so doing, the Main Committee may decide to entrust consideration to the Standing Sub-Committee on European Union Affairs or to consult the Committee established under § 31e (3).

§ 31e. (1) The Main Committee may entrust duties regarding matters of the European Union under Arts. 23e, 23f, 23g and 23j B-VG to the Standing Sub-Committee on European Union Affairs. The Main Committee may also decide in individual cases to reassume such duties so entrusted.

(2) In accomplishing duties so entrusted to it, the Standing Sub-Committee on European Union Affairs shall be governed by the provisions relating to the Main Committee.

(3) If no reconsideration by the National Council under Art. 23e (3) B-VG is called for, duties of the Main Committee or the Standing Sub-Committee on European Union Affairs may be accomplished by a committee chaired by the Chairperson of the Standing Sub-Committee on European Union Affairs (or his/her deputy) and composed of one member of each Parliamentary Group to be appointed by said Group. Said committee shall not be empowered to take decisions. After the committee has deliberated, the Chairperson shall communicate the views of the committee members to the President of the National Council, who shall in turn communicate these views to the Austrian representative to the European Council and/or the Council of the European Union.

31f. (1) Five Members may, in the course of a session, address short written questions to a member of the Federal Government on what bills, documents, reports, items of information and communications regarding a given project of the European Union within his/her remit have been received within a defined period of time, at most within the last three months.

(2) A question under (1) above shall be presented to the President. It shall bear the original signatures of at least 5 Members, including the Member who has asked the question, and designate the project to which the question refers. The question shall be communicated to the member so queried by the Parliamentary Administration.

(3) Any Member may second such a question only once within three months.

(4) The member of the Federal Government so queried shall answer the question in writing within ten working days from the day the President has received the question. If the member so queried is not in a position to answer the question s/he shall state the reasons therefor in his/her answer. Bills, documents, reports, items of information and communications on EU projects that have already been made available to the National Council under § 2 (1, 2 or 3) EU Information Act need not be expressly mentioned in the answer.

(5) The answer shall be distributed in accordance with § 31b.

(6) A question under (1) above may also be addressed to a member of the Federal Government during times when the National Council is not in session, in which case the person so queried shall answer the question within 20 working days of receipt of the question by the President.

§ 32. (1) For the purpose of preliminary deliberation of items of business, the National Council shall elect Committees. The National Council shall determine the number of members and substitute members of each Committee. The members and substitute members shall be recruited from the Parliamentary Groups in proportion to their number of members in accordance with the principles laid down in § 30 above. The Parliamentary Groups shall communicate to the President the names of the members and substitute members to which they are entitled, which shall thereupon be considered elected. Whenever changes in the relative strength of the Parliamentary Groups reported to the President so require, the National Council shall, within one week of the President having been notified or - if no sittings are held during the period in question - at the latest in the second sitting following said notification, hold elections to determine the new Committee memberships. Up to the time the new Committees are constituted, the existing Committees shall continue their work with the previous membership. The committee deliberations in the course of a term of the National Council shall not be interrupted by the new elections.

(2) The provisions of (1) above notwithstanding, the National Council may decide, upon the President's proposal and after consultation of the President's Conference, that Committee membership shall be determined in a way that constitutes a departure from the principles for the assignment of members and substitute members laid down in § 30 above, as long as the majority coalitions possible in committee are the same as those possible in the plenary.

(3) Committee members unable to attend shall be represented by elected substitute members belonging to their Parliamentary Group.

(4) A Committee member who is unable to attend may, after written notification of the Committee chairperson, be represented by a Member of his/her Parliamentary Group other than a substitute member.

§ 32a. (1) The Committee charged, in particular, with preliminarily deliberating the Draft Federal Framework Budget as well as the Federal Finance Act shall also participate in the administration of the budget under Arts. 51 (7), 51b (2), 51c (3) and 51d (2) B-VG and undertake preliminary deliberations on the Federal Financial Accounts; subject to revocation, said Committee may refer certain tasks to a Standing Sub-Committee to be elected in accordance with § 31 above, which shall also participate in the administration of the budget under Arts. 51 (7), 51b (2), 51c (3) and 51d (2) B-VG if the Federal President dissolves the National Council under Art. 29 (1) B-VG.

(2) The deliberations of the Standing Sub-Committee shall be confidential under § 37a (3) unless it decides otherwise.

(3) Whenever necessary, the Committee or its Standing Sub-Committees under (1) above and § 32f shall be convened even during times when the National Council is not in session.

(4) The President shall refer all items of business under Arts. 51 (7), 51b (2), 51c (3) and 51d (2) B-VG directly to the Committee or its Standing Sub-Committee, the time lapse stipulated in the last sentence of Art. 51 (7) [1] B-VG beginning at the time of referral.

(5) In the course of the preliminary deliberation on a Federal Finance Law every Member entitled to vote in the respective sitting of the Budget Committee shall have the right to address brief and concrete written questions to the government members present on condition that such questions are germane to the issue in hand. Such questions shall be announced by the Chairperson and copies thereof attached to the Official Record. The government member so queried shall under any circumstances, within a period of four working days from the time of submission, provide written answers to a maximum of five questions put by any one questioner. If the government member queried is not in a position to provide the desired information, this shall be stated in the answer and the reasons given. Upon receipt of the answers in writing, the President shall cause them to be copied and distributed to the questioners, the members of the Budget Committee and all Parliamentary Groups.

§ 32b. (1) For the purpose of reviewing measures for the protection of the Institutions provided for by the Federal Constitution and their capacity to act, and for reviewing measures of the information services designed to ensure military defence, the competent Committees of the National Council shall each elect one Standing Sub-Committee. Each of the parties represented on the Main Committee of the National Council shall have at least one Member on each Sub-Committee.

(2) The members of the Standing Sub-Committees shall retain their seats until the competent Committees have elected other members or until another member has been designated under § 36 (2).

§ 32c. (1) Every member of the Standing Sub-Committee as defined in § 32b may, in the course of a Sub-Committee sitting, request relevant information from the competent government member. Requests to be given access to documentation require a decision of the Sub-Committee to make such request.

(2) The government member queried shall be under no obligation to give the relevant information or give access to documentation if s/he is not in a position to do so or if compliance with the request might jeopardise national interests or the safety of persons.

§ 32d. (1) Standing Sub-Committees under § 32b shall, unless otherwise provided in the following paragraphs, be governed by the provisions regarding the organisation and work of Sub-Committees.

(2) The Sub-Committees shall in principle be convened by their Chairpersons once every three months. In addition, a sitting of the respective Sub-Committee shall be convened by its Chairperson at the request of one quarter of its members or of the competent government member and shall meet within two weeks.

(3) The Sub-Committees may, as and when necessary, meet when the National Council is in recess.

(4) Unless otherwise decided, the deliberations of the Sub-Committees shall be secret under § 37a (4). The members of the Sub-Committee shall be sworn to secrecy by the President of the National Council.

(5) Persons who are not members of the Sub-Committee and whose presence is not provided for by Art. 75 B-VG may be admitted to individual sittings upon decision by the Sub-Committee. The extent to which records of the deliberations shall be made shall be decided by the Chairperson. The record shall be signed by the Chairperson and one Secretary. The President of the National Council shall provide for the safe-keeping of the records.

§ 32e. (1) The Court of Audit Committee (§ 79 (2)) shall elect a Standing Sub-Committee, in which each party represented in the Main Committee shall have at least one member.

(2) The National Council may, upon a motion seconded by five members, decide to instruct said Sub-Committee to investigate a particular event subject to the provisions of § 99 (2). Alternatively, such action may, subject to the conditions stipulated in (3) below, be called for by one quarter of the members of the National Council.

(3) A demand under the last sentence of (2) above shall not be permitted if the subject matter in question is already being examined by the Court of Audit. In addition, demands of this nature must not be made as long as a previous demand is being complied with. If several demands are made by Members of different Parliamentary Groups, the President shall see to it that these demands are dealt with in alternation.

(4) The Sub-Committee shall commence deliberations within four weeks of a decision taken under the first sentence of (2) above or of receipt by the President of the National Council of a demand made under (2) second sentence above and shall report to the Court of Audit Committee within another six months. The Court of Audit Committee may decide to submit this report to the National Council.

(5) The Sub-Committee shall be governed by the provisions on the organisation and procedure of Sub-Committees as well as the provisions of § 32b (2).

§ 32f. (1) The Budget Committee shall under Art. 50d (3) B-VG elect

1. a Standing Sub-Committee entrusted with participation in secondary-market measures within the framework of the European Stability Mechanism (Standing Sub-Committee on Secondary-Market Affairs - ESM) and (Note: § 32f para 1 subpara 1 shall not enter into force until the requirements set out in § 109 para 6 have been fulfilled)

2. a Standing Sub-Committee entrusted with participation in all other matters of the European Stability Mechanism under this Federal Law and the preliminary deliberation on items of business under § 74d (1) (Standing Sub-Committee on ESM Affairs).

Either Sub-Committee shall comprise at least one Member of each of the parties represented in the Main Committee of the National Council. Unless otherwise provided in the paragraphs below and in §§ 32g-32k, the Standing Sub-Committees shall be governed by the provisions on the organisation and procedures of Sub-Committees as well as § 34 (5) and § 41(2). However, in departure from § 34 (4), a suspension of a sitting shall be permissible only within the time frame governing the decisions at the level of the European Stability Mechanism.

(2) Apart from the preliminary deliberation of items of business under § 74d (1), the deliberations of the Standing Sub-Committees shall be confidential under § 37a (3) unless the Standing Subcommittees decide otherwise. They shall in any case be confidential if confidentiality is required under § 74g (1).

(3) § 31 (2) shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the Standing Sub-Committee on Secondary-Market Affairs - ESM. Prior to the election under (1) [1] above, the President shall consult with the Members of the President's Conference on the composition of the Sub-Committee. Its members shall be sworn by the President of the National Council to keep strict confidentiality. § 32d (5) shall apply mutatis mutandis. (Note: § 32f para 3 shall not enter into force until the requirements set out in § 109 para 6 have been fulfilled.)

§ 32g. (1) A Standing Sub-Committee under § 32f shall be convened by its Chairperson in such a way that it can meet in due course if demanded by the competent Federal Minister or twenty Members of the National Council, with the proviso that each Member can second said demand only once a year. In so doing, the Chairperson shall comply with the time limit set for decision-making at the level of the European Stability Mechanism. If the Chairperson fails to convene the Sub-Committee in due course, this shall be done by the President.

(2) Apart from § 34 (4) an item of business under § 74e shall be placed on the agenda of a Standing Sub-Committee under § 32f if this is demanded by

1. the competent Federal Minister or

2. 20 Members of the National Council.

Members of the same parliamentary group may do so only once.

(3) The speaking time allotted to a Member in the course of deliberations of a Standing Sub-Committee under § 32f shall not exceed 20 minutes unless the Standing Sub-Committee under § 32f decides otherwise.

§ 32h. (1) The Standing Sub-Committee on ESM Affairs may, on the basis of a bill under § 74e (1) [1] and [2] authorise the Austrian representative in the European Stability Mechanism to agree to

1. a change in the authorised capital stock and an adaptation of the maximum lending volume of the European Stability Mechanism in accordance with Art. 10 (1) of the Treaty Establishing the European Stability Mechanism (ESM Treaty),

2. a call-in of authorised unpaid capital stock under Art. 9 (1) ESM Treaty,

3. essential changes in the terms and conditions governing capital calls acc. to Art. 9 (4) ESM Treaty,

4. adoption of a financial assistance facility agreement under Art. 13 (3) 3rd sentence ESM Treaty and a corresponding Memorandum of Understanding under Art. 13 (4) ESM Treaty,

5. a decision on making available additional instruments without changing the lending volume of an existing financial assistance facility and essential changes in the conditions of the financial assistance facility

or to abstain from voting. In the absence of such authorisation the Austrian representative shall vote against the proposal for a decision.

(2) If the particular urgency of the matter requires a decision under (1) [4] and [5] above to be taken without delay, the competent Federal Minister shall point this out expressly in the respective bill and state the reasons for the particular urgency and the time limit set for deliberations at the level of the European Stability Mechanism.

(3) In cases defined in (2) above the Chairperson shall without delay convene the Standing Sub-Committee on ESM Affairs under § 32g (1) and place the item on its agenda.

(4) In accordance with § 74d (4) an ESM statement shall be presented by members of the Federal Government in a sitting of the National Council following the adoption of a decision under (1) [4] and [5] by the ESM Organs.

§ 32i. (1) The Standing Sub-Committee on ESM Affairs may repeatedly adopt opinions under Art. 50c (1) B-VG on items of business under § 74d (1) and § 74e (1) [1] and [2] and on items of business, documents and proposals for decisions under § 1 ESM Information Rules.

(2) If an opinion has been adopted under (1) above, the Austrian representative in the European Stability Mechanism shall take said opinion into consideration in the deliberations of and in voting on the matter in hand. When voting has taken place, the competent Federal Minister shall immediately report to the Standing Sub-Committee on ESM Affairs and, if applicable, give the reasons why the Austrian representative has not done so.

(3) The Standing Sub-Committee on ESM Affairs may take note of reports under (2) above or refuse to do so.

§ 32j. (1) Prior to entry into debate on an item of business under § 74d (1) and § 74e (1) the Chairperson may give the floor to the competent Federal Minister and/or the Austrian representative in the European Stability Mechanism under § 20c for an introductory report on the item of business and the position taken thereon.

(2) Once the debate has been opened any member of the Standing Sub-Committee on ESM Affairs may make written motions for an opinion under § 32i.

(3) The President of the National Council shall without delay transmit

1. decisions under § 32h to the members of the Federal Government and

2. opinions under § 32i to the competent Federal Minister.

Unless the Standing Sub-Committee on ESM Affairs decides otherwise, decisions under § 32h and opinions under § 32i shall be communicated in accordance with § 39 (1).

(4) In so far as the deliberations and decisions of the Standing Sub-Committee on ESM Affairs are confidential, any distribution or communication under (3) above shall be delayed until the reasons for confidentiality have lapsed. The Standing Sub-Committee shall decide under § 9 (3) Information Rules Act on the time for releasing such communications.

(5) The Standing Sub-Committee on ESM Affairs may, with the exception of urgent cases under § 32h (2), decide that an item of business under § 32h [1] to [5] and § 32i be deliberated by the National Council. In this case the Standing Sub-Committee shall submit a report which may contain recommendations for decisions under § 32h and motions under (2) above and motions under § 27 (3).

§ 32k. (Note: § 32k shall not enter into force until the requirements set out in § 109 para 6 have been fulfilled.)

(1) The Standing Sub-Committee on Secondary Market Affairs – ESM may on the basis of an item of business received from the competent Federal Minister under § 74e (2) authorise the Austrian representative in the European Stability Mechanism to agree to proposals for decisions regarding secondary-market interventions within the framework of the European Stability Mechanism under Art. 18 (1) and (6) ESM Treaty or to abstain when a decision is taken. In the absence of such authorisation the Austrian representative shall reject said proposal for decision.

(2) The Standing Sub-Committee on Secondary Market Affairs – ESM may repeatedly adopt opinions under Art. 50c (1) B-VG on items of business under § 74e (2).

(3) § 32g and § 32j (1) to (4) shall apply mutatis mutandis.

§ 33. (1) Upon a motion submitted in writing and supported by at least five Members, including the mover(s), the National Council may decide to set up an Investigating Committee. If at least 46 of its Members so demand, the National Council shall be required to set up an Investigating Committee.

(2) Such motions or demands shall be submitted in writing in the course of a National Council sitting and shall indicate the subject of investigation under Art. 53 (2) B-VG. Motions under (1) above shall contain the words “Der Nationalrat wolle beschließen” (“… that the National Council resolve …”). They shall clearly identify the sponsor(s), carry his/her/their signature(s) and shall be submitted to the President. Motions and demands duly seconded shall without delay be distributed to the Members.

(3) The establishment and procedure of Investigating Committees shall be governed by the "Rules of Procedure for Parliamentary Investigating Committees (RP-IC)", which form Annex 1 to this Federal Law and form an integral part thereof. Unless otherwise stipulated in said Rules of Procedure, the proceedings shall be governed by the provisions of the present Federal Law.

(4) The National Council may decide that a debate be held on a motion or demand to set up an Investigating Committee. Such debate shall also be held if five Members so demand. It shall be held after the completion of the business on the agenda and shall be governed by the provisions of §§ 57a and 57b. Members belonging to the same Parliamentary Group may call for such a debate only once in every week of sittings. If such call for a debate is supported by Members of several Parliamentary Groups, the demand shall be deemed to have been made on behalf of the group to which the first sponsor belongs. If the first sponsor belongs to no Parliamentary Group, this provision shall hold with regard to the second sponsor and so forth.

(5) A motion under (1) above may be withdrawn by its sponsor(s) at any time up to the commencement of voting in the Rules of Procedure Committee. A demand under (1) above may be withdrawn by the Qualified Minority which has supported the demand at any time up to the commencement of the consideration of the report in the National Council under § 9. The President shall have the letter of withdrawal distributed to the Members.

(6) Motions and/or demands to set up Investigating Committees shall be referred to the Rules of Procedure Committee at the end of the sitting in which they have been submitted. The Rules of Procedure Committee shall commence deliberations on a motion or demand to set up an Investigating Committee within four weeks of its referral. A report shall be submitted to the National Council within a further four weeks.

(7) The Rule of Procedure Committee’s report shall be dealt with by the National Council in its sitting following the report’s submission to the President.

(8) In case of a report on a motion under (1) above, the debate and vote thereon shall be governed by the General Provisions concerning the Consideration of Business in Sittings of the National Council. Motions to amend or add and demands for separate votes shall be out of order.

(9) In so far as the Rules of Procedure Committee does not consider a demand under (1) above to be totally or partly inadmissible, the Investigating Committee shall to that extent be deemed established as from the commencement of the consideration of the report, and the decisions under § 3 (5) RP-IC shall become effective. The material point in time shall be enounced by the President in the sitting, noted in the Official Records and published without delay. § 60 (3) shall apply to the debate.

(10) If so required under (6) above or under the provisions of the Rules of Procedure for Parliamentary Investigating Committees, the Rules of Procedure Committee shall meet even when the National Council is not in session. The Investigating Committee may meet even when the National Council is not in session.

§ 34. (1) The committee shall be convened for its constituent meeting by the President of the National Council.

(2) Each committee shall elect a chairperson and as many deputy chairpersons and secretaries as are deemed necessary. If the secretaries are unable to attend, the committee shall elect a secretary for the meeting in question.

(3) The meeting shall be chaired by the President of the National Council until the chairperson has been elected.

(4) The chairperson shall convene the meetings of the committee; s/he shall open and close the meetings and implement and enforce compliance with the Rules of Procedure; s/he shall maintain order during the meetings and shall have the right to suspend them.

(5) The chairperson may place the item "Debate on current issues within the remit of the committee" on the agenda of any meeting and shall be required to do so if, prior to the committee embarking upon the agenda,

1. the committee so decides or

2. such a debate is called for by a committee member and has not taken place for more than six months.

A pending audit of the administration of public funds shall not be the subject of such a debate in the Court of Audit Committee (§ 79 (2)). In the course of the debate, only procedural motions may be made. The chairperson shall have the right to close the debate after the subject has been sufficiently discussed. 

(6) Para.(5) above shall apply mutatis mutandis to the “Debate on EU matters of topical interest in connection with the remit of the Committee”.

§ 35. (1) Every Committee may set up a Sub-Committee to engage in a preliminary deliberation of subject matter referred to it or may entrust such deliberations to an existing sub-committee. Investigating committees may set up sub-committees solely for the purpose of drawing up draft reports.

(2) The Sub-Committee shall have consultative status; majority decisions can only be taken on procedural motions.

(3) The Sub-Committee shall be convened for its constituent meeting by the Committee chairperson. Each Sub-Committee shall elect a chairperson and as many deputy chairpersons and secretaries as are deemed necessary. The meeting shall be chaired by the Committee chairperson until the chairperson of the Sub-Committee has been elected.

(4) The chairperson of the Sub-Committee shall convene the Sub-Committee for its meetings and shall conduct its deliberations subject to the provisions of § 34 (4). In so doing, the provisions of § 41 other than those of paragraphs (2) to (4) shall be applied mutatis mutandis.

(5) Upon its chairperson's proposal the Sub-Committee shall decide

1. whether several matters entrusted to it for preliminary deliberation shall be dealt with jointly or separately;

2. if the Sub-Committee decides to deal with the matters jointly, which of several comprehensive motions shall serve as a basis for the deliberations;

3. whether the subject matters shall be debated jointly, in parts or separately in general and special debates.

(6) A Sub-Committee member who is unable to attend may, after written notification of the Sub-Committee chairperson, be represented by a Member of his/her Parliamentary Group. If the secretaries are unable to attend, an interim secretary shall be elected for the purposes of the meeting.

(7) Unless the Sub-Committee decides otherwise, its deliberations shall be confidential under § 37a (3). The provisions of the penultimate and last sentences of § 32 (1), of §§ 36 and 37 except for para (3), 37a and of §§ 38 to 40 shall apply mutatis mutandis.

§ 35a. (1) The Sub-Committee shall report the results of its deliberations to the Committee orally or in writing through the Sub-Committee chairperson or an elected rapporteur.

(2) Even in cases where agreement has not been achieved on all parts of the draft, the chairperson or elected rapporteur may, under a decision of the Sub-Committee, submit to the Committee a new version of the entire text, the passages on which no agreement has been reached being suitably marked.

(3) The Committee may at any time, and even during the time when the Sub-Committee is deliberating on the subject matter, determine a deadline for submission of the Sub-Committee report. In this case, the provisions of § 43 (2) and § 44 (3) shall apply mutatis mutandis.

§ 36. (1) Committee members are under the obligation to attend the meetings and work of their Committee.

(2) Committee membership shall expire if a Member retires from the Committee, if s/he ceases to belong to the Parliamentary Group by which s/he has been nominated, if the Parliamentary Group nominates another member to replace him/her, or if the Committee members have generally been newly elected under § 32 (1).

(3) Except for cases under § 32 (1), expiry of Committee membership shall take effect upon receipt of a communication to that effect by the President of the National Council. The President shall thereupon inform the chairperson of the Committee and, if necessary, have a new member nominated.

§ 37. (1) The President of the National Council may attend, in a consultative capacity, even the deliberations of those Committees of which s/he is not a member. Other Members may attend as observers.

(2) Committees may invite other Members to attend their meetings in a consultative capacity.

(2a) When committees are

1. to deliberate on reports of a Federal Minister on EU matters under Art. 23f (2) B-VG or on reports of the Main Committee under § 31d (5a) or its Standing Subcommittee on European Union Affairs under § 31e (2) or

2. to hold a “Debate on EU matters of topical interest” in connection with the remit of the Committee under § 34 (6),

they shall call on Members of the European Parliament elected in Austria to take part in their deliberations in an advisory capacity if a parliamentary group represented on the respective committee so demands. The respective Members of the European Parliament must be members of the same parliamentary group within the meaning of the Parliamentary Groups Funding Act 1985, BGBl. No. 156/1985, as the members of the National Council group making the demand. 

(3) Members of the Federal Council shall have the right to attend the deliberations of Committees as observers.

(4) The Committees are under the obligation to invite to those parts of their sittings which are devoted to the preliminary deliberation of a popular initiative the Authorised Person pursuant to the Popular Initiatives Act of 1973 as well as two deputies, to be nominated by him/her under § 3 (3) sub-paragraph 3 of that Act.

(5) Persons who are not authorised to attend Committee sittings under (1) to (4) above or under § 18 (1) or § 20 (1 and 5), may attend such meetings only if authorised (directed) to do so by the President of the National Council or the competent member of the Federal Government, the President of the Court of Audit or the Chairperson of the Ombudsman Board.

(6) Confidential or secret committee sittings under § 37a may be attended only by persons who are members of the committee or authorized to attend Committee sittings under § 18 (1) or § 20 (1 and 5) or who are authorized to access information of the respective classification level under § 13 of the Information Rules Act. Other persons may be admitted if the Committee so decides. They shall be informed by the Chairperson of their duty to keep confidentiality and of the consequences of disclosure of protected information.

(7) Every Committee may exclude from its meetings or parts thereof any persons who are neither Members of the National Council nor entitled to attend the deliberations under § 18 (1) and § 20 (1 and 5). Under no circumstances may the Presidents of the National Council be excluded from a Committee meeting.

§ 37a. (1) Public sittings of National Council Committees shall, subject to the availability of sufficient room, be open to the general public and, above all, media representatives. Audio and video recordings shall be permitted. The following committee proceedings shall be open to the public:

1. the debate and vote on reports of the Federal Government and its members as well as on reports of Federal Ministers on EU matters under § 28b,

2. debates and votes of the Main Committee on Matters of the European Union unless (3) and (4) below otherwise provide. For good cause, a Member may move that the public be excluded from all or part of the deliberations,

3. hearings of experts and other witnesses in the course of the preliminary deliberation of important bills and State Treaties, if a Committee so decides,

4. a general debate or a detailed discussion of a popular initiative in the presence of experts or other witnesses,

5. hearings of witnesses in the course of the preliminary deliberation of Court of Audit reports, if the Court of Audit Committee so decides. Sound, film and video recordings as well as the taking of photographs shall not be permitted.

(2) Unless otherwise provided, sittings of National Council Committees shall be closed to the public. Sound, film and video recordings as well as the taking of photographs shall not be permitted.

(3) Committees may decide that, and to what extent, their deliberations and the decisions adopted by them shall be confidential. Committee proceedings and deliberations shall in any case be confidential if classified information of levels 1 and 2 or ESM classified information under the Information Rules Act is used. Other confidential proceedings shall be those of the subcommittees under §§ 32a, 32e, 32f and 35 unless these subcommittees otherwise decide.

(4) The proceedings and deliberations of Committees using classified information of levels 3 and 4 under the Information Rules Act shall be secret. The sittings of the Standing Subcommittees under § 32b shall be secret unless otherwise decided.

(5) The Chairperson shall decide to what extent records shall be made of Committee proceedings dealing with classified information or ESM classified information. The President shall provide for the safekeeping of the records.

§ 38. (1) All Committee sittings shall be duly recorded and the Official Records signed by the Committee chairperson and one secretary and deposited with the Parliamentary Administration. The minutes shall be kept by staff of the Parliamentary Administration; the Committees may, however, decide to assign this task to a secretary.

(2) The Official Records shall list the items under deliberation, all motions made in the course of the meeting, the manner in which they have been disposed of, the results of all votes and the decisions taken.

(3) The Records shall be accompanied by an attendance list as well as notifications, if any, of committee members being absent and replaced by Members other than subsitute members. Originals or copies of any documents that the chairperson has brought to the notice of members in the course of the meeting shall be annexed to the Records.

(4) The Records shall be considered approved if no objections have been raised to them on the working day following the Committee meeting. If any objections are raised, the chairperson shall have the power to rule on them.

§ 39. (1) The President of the National Council shall direct communications (press releases) concerning the activities of the committees to be published. The Committees themselves may, however, of their own accord transmit to the Parliamentary Administration texts (communiqués) signed by the chairperson and one secretary for publication.

(2) In exceptional cases the Committee chairperson may ask the President to instruct the stenographers to take down summary records of the proceedings, which shall immediately thereafter be annexed to the Official Records of the meeting. These summary records shall, in particular, include any statements in writing submitted by participants of the meeting.

(3) If the Committee so decides, the President shall order the publication of such records.

§ 40. (1) The Committees may, through the President, ask members of the Federal Government to initiate investigations or summon experts or other witnesses to provide information orally or in writing; if such summonses entail costs the President's approval shall be sought.

(2) If an expert or other witness fails to comply with the summons, s/he may be brought before the Committee by the competent authority.

(3) Experts or other witnesses invited to appear before the Committee in order to make an oral statement and who have to travel for this purpose from their place of residence or work to the seat of the National Council shall be entitled to reimbursement of their costs. Reimbursement shall be effected by the Parliamentary Administration on production of the relevant evidence. In such cases the provisions governing travel expenses of federal civil servants shall be applied mutatis mutandis.

(4) In connection with preliminary deliberations on an item of business the Committee chairperson may, with the approval of the President, invite the Committee members to visit the relevant locations within the federal territory.

§ 41. (1) Committees shall be deemed to have a quorum if more than half of their members are present. Such a quorum shall only be required for the purposes of votes and elections. If a vote or election cannot take place because of the absence of a quorum, the chairperson shall suspend the meeting for a definite or indefinite period.

(2) At the beginning of a meeting the chairperson may change the order of business on the agenda and arrange for the deliberation of several items of business under one head. If any objections are raised, the Committee shall decide on such objections without debate. On the chairperson's proposal or on the motion of a Member the Committee may, at the beginning of the meeting, decide with a two-thirds majority of those present to strike an item of business from the agenda or to deliberate on an item of business not on the agenda.

(3) At the beginning of deliberations on an item of business the Committee shall elect a Committee rapporteur, on whose proposal the item of business may be discussed in toto or in parts or in separate general and special debates. If any objections are raised, the Committee shall decide on such objections without debate.

(4) If the Committee has been seized of several comprehensive motions, it shall decide on which of them the debate and voting shall be based. A general debate may take place prior to voting. If the written report of a Sub-Committee contains a new version of the entire text of a draft under the provisions of § 35a (2), that text shall form the basis for deliberations.

(5) The Committee chairperson shall recognise the members who have asked for the floor in the order in which they have made their requests.

(6) On the chairperson's proposal, the Committee may, for certain of its deliberations, decide by a two-thirds majority of the members present to limit the time for each member who has asked for the floor. On no account shall speaking time be limited to less than one quarter of an hour for each speaker.

(6a) Whenever Members of the European Parliament elected in Austria are called on to take part in deliberations under § 37 (2a) in an advisory capacity, para (6) above shall apply with the proviso that any such decision shall also apply to Members of the European Parliament who have asked for the floor and that the speaking time may be limited to ten minutes for each speaker. In departure from (6) above, such decision may also be adopted in the course of the debate. 

(7) After at least three members who have asked for the floor have actually spoken, a motion to close debate may be made at any time on condition that the member holding the floor is not interrupted; the chairperson shall put any such motion to the vote immediately. If the motion is carried, all members who have already asked for the floor shall have the right to speak. If at the time of the vote the chairperson has no further requests for the floor, each of the Parliamentary Groups represented on the Committee (§ 32) shall have the right to appoint a speaker from its midst.

(8) Amendments modifying or adding to the text under deliberation may be made by all Members entitled to vote in the meeting; such amendments shall be presented to the chairperson in writing and may be accompanied by a statement of reasons. If a motion to close debate has been carried, Members desirous of moving an amendment may, immediately after closure, submit their amendment to the chairperson, who shall communicate it to the Committee.

(9) Unless expressly provided otherwise, all decisions in the Committee shall be taken with a majority of the Committee members present. The chairperson shall have a vote like all other members. The exercise of the right to vote shall be governed, mutatis mutandis, by the provisions of § 64. In case of a tie the motion shall be lost.

(10) The provisions of (9) above shall apply mutatis mutandis to elections to be held in the Committees. In case of a tie a second ballot shall be held. If the tie is not broken by the second ballot, the decision shall be taken by drawing lots.

(11) If the chairperson so orders or one fifth of the number of Committee members determined by the National Council so demand, a roll-call vote shall be taken. Prior to voting the chairperson shall determine and announce the names of those entitled to vote. The result of the roll-call vote shall be recorded both in the Official Records of the Committee meeting and in the written Committee report to the National Council.

(12) The adjournment of deliberations, factual corrections, the debate and vote on procedural motions, the order of voting as well as the call to speak to the point and the call to order shall be governed, mutatis mutandis, by the provisions governing the sittings of the National Council.