The Federal National Council was founded as the 4th federal authority in relation to the raking of the five federal authorities stipulated in the Constitution: “The Supreme Council of the Union, the President of the Union and Vice President, the Council of Ministers of the Union, the Federal National Council, and the Federal Judiciary.”
The FNC initiated its first session on 2/12/1972 to contribute to the process of sustainable development and to establish a distinguished relationship between the Union authorities through its participation in the discussion and approval of legislations, its discussion of citizens’ issues and needs, and infrastructure.
Formation of the Council
The Federal National Council consists of 40 members, distributed over the UAE emirates according to the Constitution as follows:
- 8 seats for the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
- 8 seats for the emirate of Dubai.
- 6 seats for the emirate of Sharjah.
- 6 seats for Ras Al Khaimah emirate.
- 4 seats for the emirate of Ajman.
- 4 seats for the emirate and Fujairah.
- 4 seats for the emirate of Umm Al Quwain.
A member of the Council shall represent the people of the whole Union and not the emirate for which he was elected or selected by.
Half of the members of the Council are elected through electoral bodies whose members are nominated by leaders of different emirates, while the other half are appointed. This mechanism was adopted and implemented back in 2006 – from the beginning of the implementation of the 1st phase of the political empowerment program of HH. Sheikh Khalifa. The second stage followed by an increase of the electoral body members to reach more than 129 thousand voters, in accordance with the decision of HH. The President of the State, No.( 2) of the year 2011, which marked an advanced step for the representative and parliamentary role of the National Council.
Emirati women have participated in the council for the first time since its establishment in the 14th legislative term. They won one seat in the first electoral experiment in the country in the year 2006, while eight others were appointed to the council in one of the highest percentages in the world.
The Council competencies
The Council’s competencies consist of the discussion of “Drafts constitutional amendments”, “Draft federal laws”, “Draft of general budget of the state and the projects of its final accounts”, and to express opinion in “International treaties and conventions”.
The Council exercises political control through specific tools, including the presentation of general issues for discussion and submission of recommendations to the government, addressing questions to the Prime Minister or to the ministers, each in his own jurisdiction, and the disposal of complaints by citizens against federal government bodies.
The Council Meetings
- The Council holds an ordinary annual term of not less than seven months.
- The Council may be convened in an extraordinary term when required, and the it may not consider topics other than those it was called for.
- The Council sessions shall be public, and may be held in secret at the request of the Government or the President of the Council or at least one third of its members.
- The Council shall not hold its sessions and its deliberations shall be valid only in the presence of a majority of its members (21 members).
- Decisions shall be made by an absolute majority of the members present and, in case the votes’ results turn out to be equal, the votes of the President of the Council party shall prevail.
- The plenary session operates through an agenda which is the organizational mechanism through which the legislative and supervisory functions of the meeting are determined.
- The Plenary session shall have a minutes of the meeting in which all the proceedings of the session, and all what is being read and what is decided and what will be decided at the session, shall be written in detail. Any member present at the meeting may request a correction, upon ratification, and the approval of the Council is required here. Upon ratification, no amendment shall be made.
- Speaking in a plenary session is regulated in a strict manner. The member may not speak in the session until the permission is required from the president and is actually granted. The Prime Minister, the Ministers and the Committee Rapporteurs shall be excluded from this list in relation to the topics presented from their committees. Also, it is not permissible to interrupt the speaker or discuss personal matters, and the President may prevent the member from proceeding further, and the speaker must speak standing from his place, whereas the Rapporteurs shall speak on the platform. The speaker may address the President or the Council. The member may not speak on the same subject more than three times, nor should he his speech exceed five minutes at the same time, nor shall he reiterate his words or others’ words. The Council has the right, based on the President’s suggestion, to set a time for the completion of the discussion of one of the topics and adopt the opinion or close the discussion, and the competent minister shall attend the session devoted to discuss the draft law or the general topic of the supervised party.
Term of Membership
- The term of the Council membership commences from the date of its first meeting and for a term of 4 calendar years instead of 2, in accordance with the provisions of Article 3 of the Constitutional Amendment No. (1) of the year 2009, under the article (72).
- This term is called the Legislative Chapter, and it shall be a call upon the Council to convene and dissolve the session by a decree issued by the Head of State.
Terms and Conditions for Membership in the Federal National Council
The constitution stipulated the for membership of the Council:
- Be a citizen of one of the seven emirates making up the UAE, permanently residing in the emirate he/she represents in the Council.
- Be at least twenty-five (25) years old.
- Have good civil standing and reputation, with no prior convictions of an offense or vice – accused candidates that were legally vindicated in a court of law are eligible to run for Council.
- Candidates must be literate.