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PACE approves rule changes to enable remote or hybrid plenary sessions

In light of the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, PACE’s Standing Committee has unanimously approved modifications to the Rules of Procedure to enable the Assembly to hold remote or hybrid plenary sessions in exceptional circumstances.

Approving a report by Frank Schwabe (Germany, SOC), the committee said the Assembly should continue to hold physical meetings whenever possible, but that – when exceptional circumstances made this impossible – the Bureau could decide to hold a hybrid or remote Assembly part-session, fixing the dates and duration according to organisational and technical constraints.

In such circumstances the existing rules should continue to apply fully, the committee said, except for a number of modifications including changes to deadlines for transmitting credentials, notifying substitutes, tabling amendments and requesting to speak, as well as modified speaking times. Simultaneous interpretation of sittings into languages other than the official or working languages would also be suspended.

When the Assembly meets only in hybrid or remote mode due to exceptional circumstances, the Bureau may also decide to make use of the new complementary electoral procedure for electing judges to the European Court of Human Rights, the highest officials of the Council, or its own President and Vice-Presidents. This could be individual electronic voting or by postal voting, in line with secure procedures set out in the proposed rules.