The European Parliament will shrink from 751 to 705 MEPs when the United Kingdom leaves the EU, leaving room for new countries that may join in the future.
Besides reducing the European Parliament’s size from 751 to 705 elected representatives, a proposed re-distribution of seats, approved by the full House on Wednesday, will also place 46 of the 73 seats, to be freed up by the departure of the UK, in a reserve.
Some or all of the 46 seats in the reserve can then be allocated to new countries joining the EU or remain empty, thus reducing the size of Parliament. The remaining 27 seats will be re-distributed among the 14 EU countries that are slightly under-represented.
The text also stresses that the new allocation will apply only if the United Kingdom leaves the EU. Otherwise, the current arrangements would stay in place until Brexit has been legally completed.
The draft European Council decision was endorsed with 566 votes in favour, 94 against and 31 abstentions.
Co-rapporteur Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL) said: “The composition of the European Parliament is the ultimate expression of the will of European citizens. This is why it is important that the representation of citizens is fair, objective, and in line with EU law. After long and tough negotiations, I am glad that the European Parliament has granted its final consent to our proposal. Engaging citizens in the democratic process is of utmost importance, and I believe that the new composition of our House will motivate our citizens to become more active participants in our democratic process.”
Co-rapporteur Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D, PT) said: “The final approval of the new composition of the European Parliament is a happy end to a very challenging process. We have reasons to be satisfied with the final outcome: a fairer allocation of seats, finally complying with the Lisbon Treaty and the principle of degressive proportionality; no loss of seats for any Member State and a reduction in the size of the Parliament that leaves a number of seats available to accommodate potential future enlargements. The new European Parliament will ensure a fairer reflection of the citizens it represents.”
The new composition of the European Parliament will still require a formal green light from EU leaders at the summit in Brussels on 28-29 June. The decision will enter into force on the day following that of its publication in the EU Official Journal.
According to Article 14(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the number of Members of the European Parliament cannot exceed 750, plus the President. It also requires representation to be “degressively proportional”, with a minimum threshold of six members per member state, and states that no member state is to be allocated more than 96 seats.
In simplified terms, “degressive proportionality” should meet two requirements:
1. no smaller state shall receive more seats than a larger one, and
2. the ratio of population to seats shall increase as the population increases, before rounding to whole numbers.
This means that the allocation of seats in the European Parliament must reflect demographic developments in the EU countries.