The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) brings together democratically elected Members of Parliament from the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe. Using its powers under the founding Statute, the Assembly can:
demand action from 47 European governments, who must jointly reply;
conduct probes to uncover new facts about human rights violations;
question Presidents and Prime Ministers on any topic it chooses;
observe elections and send delegations to mediate in crisis hot-spots;
negotiate the terms on which states join the Council of Europe;
inspire new national laws by proposing and giving opinions on treaties;
request legal opinions on the laws and constitutions of member states; and
sanction a member state by recommending its exclusion or suspension.
Though it has no power to pass binding laws, PACE holds a constant dialogue with governments, national parliaments, other international organisations and civil society which ‘set the agenda’. In this way, its texts filter down through law and practice to improve the lives of Europeans.
Through its recommendations, the Assembly demands action on behalf of the 800 million Europeans it represents, and the 47 governments of the Council of Europe represented in the Committee of Ministers are obliged to respond. In practice, the Assembly often acts as the driving force of the Council of Europe by promoting new ideas, setting strategic direction and initiating many of the Council's most important activities.
The Assembly sets its own agenda where it discusses European and international events covering issues related to human rights, democracy, protection of minorities and the rule of law.