The proceedings of the two Councils, that is the National Council and the Council of States, generally take place separately. Items of business which cannot be dealt with separately by the Councils are dealt with jointly by the United Federal Assembly. The Federal Constitution provides an exhaustive list of such items of business.
The United Federal Assembly convenes in order to:
- conduct elections,
- decide on conflicts of jurisdiction between the highest federal authorities and,
- decide on applications for pardons.
It also convenes for special events, and to hear declarations made by the Federal Council.
Since the National Council has a greater number of members, it has more influence than the Council of States in the United Federal Assembly and in its committees. This is a departure from the principle that both Councils are of equal standing, which otherwise applies.