The Federal Council Affairs Section deals with government core business. Each year it handles more than 2,500 items of business that the departments and the Federal Chancellery present to the Federal Council. It plans the Federal Council meetings, draws up the agenda, runs the joint reports procedure and issues the decisions made by the Federal Council.
Managing Federal Council meetings
The Federal Council holds between 40 and 60 meetings each year. Around 2,500 items of business are dealt with during the 100 hours or so of meetings. The Federal Council deals with on average 50 items of business at each weekly meeting.
The Federal Council Affairs Section checks that the items of business announced by the departments and the Federal Council are complete and correctly submitted, and that they are sent in on time. Four days before the Federal Council meeting it draws up the agenda. As soon as a department or the Federal Council submits a request, the section opens the joint reports procedure, in which the request is distributed to all other departments and the Federal Chancellery. The joint reports and the responses to them are collected by the Federal Council Affairs Section and noted on a list of differences, which the Federal Council refers to on the day of its meeting when debating and making its decisions.
Once the meeting is over, the section draws up the Federal Council decisions and issues them to the departments.
Guidelines for Federal Council Affairs
The Federal Chancellery is responsible for the joint reporting procedure in accordance with Art. 15 para. 2 of the Government and Administration Organisation Act, It organises the procedure on the basis of guidelines set out in the Red File (Roter Ordner). The guidelines explain how items of business should be prepared and dealt with, and sets out for the departments and Federal Chancellery how to make a request to the Federal Council. It also contains the templates and documents needed to make a request.
Managing parliamentary procedural requests and questions
Each year the Federal Council Affairs Section also handles around 1,300 parliamentary procedural requests made to the Federal Council. These are submitted by one or several members of the National Council or Council of States, a parliamentary committee or group.
The Federal Council Affairs Section also organises and coordinates a question-and-answer session held in the National Council at the beginning of the second and third week of a parliamentary session. A Federal Council member answers questions submitted in advance by members of the National Council. About 470 questions are submitted annually.