Bundesrat Ple­nary ses­sions

Foto: Rednerpult im Plenarsaal des Bundesrates

© Bundesrat | Henning Schacht | 2013

Every three to four weeks the Bundesrat comes together for its public plenary session on a Friday. The plenary always begins at 9.30 a.m., and is public.


Scope of the agenda

The Bundesrat works briskly through what is usually an extensive programme for its plenary sessions - with 50, 60 or sometimes more than 80 points on the agenda. Sessions are normally focused on one or two items to be discussed, which are examined in detail.

For the remaining agenda points, speakers merely submit statements, which explain and substantiate the position of their federal state’s government. These statements are frequently put on the record without being presented orally, and can be consulted subsequently in the session minutes.

Votes on several points are taken together wherever possible to save time and keep the number of individual votes to a minimum. The President is usually able to adjourn the meeting after three to four hours.

The atmosphere in the Bundesrat plenary

The calm tenor of discussions is one of the hallmarks of Bundesrat plenary sessions. The atmosphere is subdued rather than emotive, with speakers making their point calmly and soberly, sticking to the facts.

Discussions with representatives from the Federal Government also remain business-like, no matter how different the standpoints may be. Speakers are rarely interrupted and it is unheard of for the meeting to be called to order; loud protestations or applause, both considered rather poor form as recently as the early 1990s, are still very unusual nowadays.

Notification of decisions and documentation of the session

Decisions on each piece of draft legislation are adopted in the public session. These are forwarded to the Federal Government or other competent authorities on the day they are adopted and are subsequently published as official documents, along with the minutes of the plenary session. Generally speaking, committee consultations for the next plenary meeting begin once again in the week after each plenary session.

Plenary hall seating plan

© Bundesrat | 2014

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