Established in 1970, the CEMAT convenes every two or three years. The conference is hosted by the country to which presidency had been transferred at the end of the preceding session. Switzerland has been a member of this body since 1973.
The CEMAT's ongoing business is handled by a Committee of Senior Officials, whose secretariat is affiliated to the Directorate of Environment and Local Authorities. Switzerland is represented in this body by a member of the Directorate of the Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE).
The CEMAT's remit is to strengthen and promote European cooperation and the exchange of information in the area of spatial and regional planning. The results of the conference's efforts are, as a rule, submitted to the Council of Ministers in the form of resolutions. Among the most significant of the CEMAT's projects is the European Charter for Spatial/Regional Planning signed in Torremolinos in 1983. The Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent passed in Hanover in 2000 are also very important.