What does the City Council do?

The City Council is the highest administrative body of the municipality. The City Council determines the broad outline of municipal policy and supervises its implementation. The Municipal Executive prepares the policy outline and implements policy. The Municipal Executive also have its own responsibilities.

How does the City Council do its work?

The Council normally meets every two weeks on Tuesday evenings. These meetings consist of three parts: the city session, the council session, and the plenary council meeting. You can easily get in touch with councillors or citizen members, take an active part in meetings, and follow the discussions. Within the various political parties, the focus areas are divided up between the citizen members and committee members.

City session (5:00 pm to 6:30 pm)

In the city session, you can join in while the Council is discussing and considering the matters at hand. Sometimes the emphasis is more on providing information and there may be a presentation on a particular subject. Usually, several meetings are held at the same time, each focusing on a specific issue. Your contribution will be taken into account in the subsequent discussion in the council session or used in the further development of plans. In the city session, you can also formally have your say about a subject that will be on the agenda of the council session that same evening. If you want to know more or participate actively, please contact the Council's registry office at raadsgriffie@maastricht.nl.

Council session (7:00 pm to 9:00 pm)

In the council session, councillors meet with one another and with the Municipal Executive. This is where the debates take place, with one councillor or citizen member per party joining in.

In the council session, councillors give their views on particular subjects and/or prepare formal decision-making. This also takes place in parallel meetings which you can attend. The agenda shows exactly what items will be discussed and which documents relate to each subject. 

Plenary council meeting (from 9:30 pm)

The plenary council meeting is where decision are taken and where the Council votes on motions and amendments. Discussions from the first two sessions are not repeated. At the most, there may be a concise discussion about a particular issue. A subject that has been discussed in the city or council session be addressed in the plenary meeting two weeks later at the earliest. This leaves enough time for further consultation and reflection. The agenda of plenary council meetings is public. Agendas of earlier meetings include (video) reports.

Chairing evening meetings

Nine councillors take turns chairing city and council sessions. Plenary council meetings are chaired by the mayor.

Composition

The City Council consists of 39 councillors, representing eleven political parties. They are elected every four years, most recently on 19 March 2014. The political parties are supported by citizen members who are not elected to the council but may speak on behalf of their party in the city session and the council session. The focus areas (PDF, 24 KB) are divided among the various political parties.

Presidium

The presidium is responsible for the City Council's agenda and oversees proceedings as laid down in the Rules of Procedure. The presidium consists of seven councillors, six of whom chair city and council sessions at regular intervals. The seventh member - the chair of the presidium - serves as deputy chair of the municipal council. The mayor and the registrar serve as advisors to the presidium.

Forward agenda

The forward agenda (link to be provided) gives an overview of items to appear on the agenda of forthcoming council meetings. It shows when a subject is expected to come up for discussion in the municipal council (i.e., this agenda is not definitive). Only when a subject has been put on the agenda is it certain that it will actually come up for discussion.

Council instruments

Councillors have a range of instruments at their disposal to discharge their duties. Through these instruments, the municipal council influences decision making or establishes frameworks for the policy to be pursued.

Amendment

An amendment is a change to the text of a council decision of the Municipal Executive. The original council proposal is changed if a majority of the Council votes for the amendment.

Motion

In a motion, the Council states its view on a particular subject or makes a specific request to the Municipal Executive. Motions are discussed under the agenda item concerning the subject in question. A motion is adopted if a majority of the Council votes in favour of it.

Written questions

A councillor can submit written questions to the Municipal Executive at any time, including questions about subjects not on the agenda. The Municipal Executive must respond to written questions within four weeks. These questions are informally known as ‘Article 48 questions,’ which refers to the relevant article in the Rules of Procedure.

Interpellation

Interpellation is an important instrument which councillors use to put questions to the Municipal Executive or call it to account. This happens in the plenary council meeting. Often it concerns a politically sensitive issue.

Council investigation or council inquiry

By instituting an investigation or inquiry, the Council can examine the policy pursued by the Municipal Executive or the mayor. A council investigation is a serious matter. But a council inquiry goes one step further, entailing the possibility of hearing witnesses under oath.

Private councillor's proposal

A private councillor's proposal is a proposal put forward by a councillor on which the City Council decides. In other words, it is a proposal that has not been drawn up by the Municipal Executive.

Rules of Procedure

The Rules of Procedure lay down in detail how City Council does its work, e.g. the way it deliberates and votes. The Rules also describe the instruments at the Council's disposal and lay down the provisions governing the citizens' initiative procedure.

Code of conduct

The Dutch Municipalities Act (Gemeentewet) requires every municipality to adopt an integrity code of conduct. The code lays down rules to be complied with to ensure that Maastricht is governed with integrity. The code of conduct covers the council, the Municipal Executive, and the mayor.