The size, structure and working methods of the Austrian Council are quite different from the European, French or Italian economic and social councils. Due to its informal legal structure, it has no binding, written rules of procedure, nor dœs it have its own premises or budget. The de facto rules of procedure of the Council have been developed with practice, based on precedence, and are not legally binding. The chairmanship (presidency) of the Council changes every six months and is shared between the four bodies representing the social partners. The chairman (president) heads up the meetings of the Council and represents it outside. The Council meets once a month on the premises of the organisation holding the chair at the time. Its meetings are confidential and not public. Council statements are usually consensus-based. Various wordings are discussed until a consensus is reached. There is therefore no provision for abstentions and minority votes occur only in exceptional cases. Members and presidents are appointed from within the four social partner bodies represented on the Council, according to their own internal rules of procedure. In principle, their mandate is unlimited in duration and can be withdrawn at any time by the organisation to which they belong. The activities of the Council members, the chairman and both secretaries-general are unpaid. All of their Council-related activities are carried out as part of their usual duties in their own organisations. Any costs incurred in the course of the Council's activities (publications, conferences, etc.) are usually shared equally between the four social partner bodies.