The EPTA network was formally established in 1990 under the patronage of the President of the European Parliament, Mr Enrique Baron Crespo. The network has a light structure, guided by the EPTA Council and by meetings of the Directors of the EPTA partner organisations.
The EPTA Council is the steering committee of the EPTA network, and consists of members of Parliament or representatives of the advisory boards for the respective EPTA organisation. The Council decides on organisational matters such as co-operation within the network and the status of members and associates.
The presidency of EPTA moves each year. The tasks of the EPTA member organisation holding the presidency are to coordinate the EPTA network activities and to host the annual EPTA Conference, Council Meeting and Directors' Meeting.
The members of the EPTA network are European organisations, which carry out TA studies on behalf of parliaments. Parliamentary TA is institutionalised in different ways, ranging from permanent parliamentary committees for TA; separate TA units as part of the parliamentary administration; to independent institutions with a mandate to serve as a permanent consulting institution for the parliament.
The following criteria for full membership are (Council decision Helsinki October 2001) that the TA unit
Associate membership can be granted to salient TA units, which have a TA programme and resources to realise it, but do not fully live up to other criteria for full membership. Associates are involved in all EPTA activities, but are not represented in the EPTA Council. Further, units interested in the work of EPTA can act as observers.
The decision to grant membership (both full and associate) is taken by the EPTA Council. Observer status is granted by the current EPTA presidency.
EPTA can decide to make 'common EPTA projects', in which EPTA members and associates can join forces and make trans-European TA activities. EPTA projects are based upon the 'Joint EPTA Project Framework', which makes use of a bottom-up principle, according to which three or more members can initiate a project if it is open for active participation from other EPTA members. The project is decided during a Directors' meeting or Council Meeting after being scrutinised by the boards of the members. The outcome of an EPTA project is the sole responsibility of the participating members.