The NATO Parliamentary Assembly provides a discussion forum independent of NATO in which 266 parliamentarians from 29 Alliance member countries and 53 associate delegates discuss issues and problems of shared interest.
Parliamentarians from Central and Eastern Europe have increasingly been integrated into the Parliamentary Assembly’s work since the end of the Cold War. Involving these countries in political dialogue and supporting them as they move towards parliamentary democracy strengthens over and above the European-Atlantic sphere.
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Member States are Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
12 states have now been granted associate status (Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine); this allows them to participate in the Parliamentary Assembly’s work and deliberations. Until April 2014, the Russian Federation was also an associate member. The status was, however, suspended until further notice as a result of the intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimea in March 2014.
Algeria, Israel, Jordan and Morocco are represented in the Parliamentary Assembly as regional partners and Mediterranean associate members. In addition, there are eight observer delegations: from Australia, Egypt, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea and Tunisia, as well as the Assembly of Kosovo and the Palestinian National Council. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as well as the European Parliament may also send delegations with observer status.
The Parliamentary Assembly primarily addresses security and defence policy issues. Specific issues pertaining to the economy, politics, the environment and culture are examined too. The governments of Alliance member states have also mandated the NATO PA to involve Georgia and Ukraine in the Assembly's dialogue and cooperation.
The Assembly aims primarily to articulate opinions and reach a consensus between its members. This gives parliamentarians from Alliance member states and associated countries an opportunity to discuss national concerns and inform each other of their very diverse national and regional vantage points on key issues.
The Assembly holds two plenary sessions every year: one in spring and one in autumn.
Five committees are involved in preparatory work for the plenary meetings: the Political Committee, the Defence and Security Committee, the Committee on Economics and Security, the Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security and the Science and Technology Committee. Each committee addresses the most important topical problems within its sphere of expertise.
The Assembly adopts reports and resolutions on all issues pertaining to the Alliance. These are drawn up in the committees and adopted by the plenary. The texts are directed to the governments of NATO Member States and to the North Atlantic Council. The Secretary-General of NATO reports to the Assembly on a regular basis.
With a view to promoting transatlantic dialogue, the "Transatlantic Parliamentary Forum" was set up in 2001. It meets once a year in Washington, D.C. and is organised in cooperation with the Atlantic Council of the United States and the "National Defense University".
The Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group was set up in 1995 to provide a forum for political dialogue with parliamentarians from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region). This has given rise to numerous contacts at various levels with countries around the Mediterranean and initial contacts with some Gulf States.
Delegates are appointed to the Assembly by the various national chambers in keeping with each country's own procedures, which means that the Assembly reflects a broad array of political opinions. There are 18 members in the German delegation - 6 Bundesrat members and 12 Bundestag members.