The ECPR Council is made up of the Official Representatives of each Member Institution of the ECPR. This currently numbers over 340 Members. The main roles of the Council are to:
- elect new members to the Executive Committee (EC) every three years;
- delegate the running of the Consortium to the EC until the next election;
- monitor and hold the EC accountable for its actions, chiefly through receiving annual reports from its main officers, as well as a three yearly review at the end of an EC’s tenure.
- oversee the investigation of any alleged misconduct by members of the EC
The Council meets annually during the ECPR’s General Conference. Inevitably, not all of its members are able to attend these meetings, but meetings usually attract between 50 and 80 attendees, sometimes higher, a number that brings sufficient experience and views to proceedings. The Council operates according to a set of Standing Orders.
The Council is presided over by a Speaker whose responsibilities include: chairing meetings of the Council; proposing amendments to the Standing Orders of Council; liaising with the EC over business matters and the formulation of the agenda of Council meetings; serving as Returning Officer for EC elections and votes to amend the ECPR Constitution; acting as a general liaison point for members of Council vis-à-vis the ECPR.
Official Representatives (ORs) themselves have important functions because of the ECPR’s almost unique institutional-based membership. ORs act as a main channel of communication with their institutions downward from the ECPR as well as upward from their institutions to the ECPR. Their main contact point is the ECPR’s Communications Officer who looks after all membership matters
The Council is, therefore, a large and important body operating at the heart of the governance structure of the ECPR. It is important to note, however, that this system of governance does not equate with a straightforward ‘parliamentary’ one (where the Council is the legislature and the EC the executive) because of the Executive Committee Members primordial role as Trustees of the ECPR. The ECPR is a Charity accountable to the UK’s Charity Commission and UK Charity law. The Charity Commission bestows important functions, obligations and responsibilities on the Trustees of its charities which must be met each year, and whose names are submitted to the Commission on an annual basis. The EC, as the body of Trustees, is therefore accountable not just to the Council but also the UK Charity Commission.