The Assembly can adopt three different types of texts: recommendations, resolutions and opinions.
- Recommendations contain proposals addressed to the Committee of Ministers, the implementation of which is within the competence of governments.
- Resolutions embody decisions by the Assembly on questions, which it is empowered to put into effect, or expressions of view, for which it alone is responsible.
- Opinions are expressed by the Assembly on questions put to it by the Committee of Ministers, such as the admission of new member States to the Council of Europe, draft conventions, or the budget of the Organisation.
Until 2004, the Assembly also adopted orders (instructions from the Assembly to one or more of its committees); this category of text was then abolished.
Texts adopted by the Assembly are available on-line in a provisional version as soon as possible after their adoption. The provisional version is replaced by a final version some weeks later. The adopted texts have been indexed and the full text versions are online as from 1949.
(NB: numbering of resolutions and recommendations is continuous from 1951 onwards, orders as from 1953)
These documents are numbered sequentially preceded by the reference Doc. …. Working documents are indexed and to a large extent are available online. Some of the main types of document are:
- Committee reports are prepared by rapporteurs, approved in committee and tabled for discussion by the Assembly either at a part-session or at a meeting of the Standing Committee. A report normally contains one or more draft texts (a recommendation or opinion addressed to the Committee of Ministers and/or a resolution). These texts are the only part of the report which is voted on in committee and may be subsequently amended by the Assembly in the plenary. The explanatory memorandum, prepared on the authority of the rapporteur, sets out the committee's reasons for the proposals in the substantive text. A brief summary of the issues addressed and responses proposed appears on the first page.
- Motions for a recommendation or resolution have to be tabled by twenty or more members of the Assembly belonging to at least five national delegations. Motions are then referred to committees for report and possibly to other committees for opinion.
- Written declarations allow members of the Assembly to give formal expression to their views on matters within the competence of the Council of Europe. They shall be signed by at least twenty representatives or substitutes of four nationalities and two political parties.
- Written questions to the Committee of Ministers or to the chairmanship-in-office of the Committee of Ministers: An Assembly member may address a written question to the Committee of Ministers bearing on matters within its competence. It is circulated as an Assembly document and the reply by the Committee of Ministers is later published with the question as another Assembly document. Members of the Assembly may also put written questions for written answer to the chairperson-in-office of the Committee of Ministers. These questions and the replies appear together in a single document.
Other types of document are:
- Agendas of the Assembly's part-sessions;
- Communications from the President of the Parliamentary Assembly on his/her activities;
- progress reports of the Bureau and the Standing Committee;
- reports on the credentials of Assembly members submitted by the national parliaments;
- communications from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe;
- requests for opinion transmitted by the Committee of Ministers;
- replies by the Committee of Ministers to Assembly recommendations;
- statutory report on the activities of the Committee of Ministers;
- Lists and curricula vitae of candidates for the elections organised by the Assembly (judges to the European Court of Human Rights, Commissioner for Human Rights, Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General, Secretary general of the Assembly.
(NB: numbering of documents is continuous from 1952 onwards)
Debates are transcribed in an official verbatim report in the two official languages (French and English). Speeches delivered in German and Italian are also transcribed in their original language and published separately.