Wednesday

29th Jun 2022

Parliament to get extra observer MEPs from 12 countries

The European Parliament on Wednesday (25 November) paved the way to taking on a further 18 MEPs. But they will not be allowed to vote or speak in the plenary until EU governments agree and ratify a legal basis for their full mandate.

The newcomers will be allowed to speak in committee meetings, but won't have the right to table amendments, draft reports, vote or speak in the plenary. Their limited powers are a result of the legal complications following the transition from EU's old rulebook to the Lisbon Treaty, which will come into force next Tuesday (1 December).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The EU parliament awaits 18 'observer' MEPs from a dozen countries (Photo: European Parliament)

When the reform treaty was drafted, EU governments decided to expand the legislature from 736 to 751 members, so as to reflect the enlarged union. Elections for the current European Parliament took place in June, however, when the Lisbon Treaty's future was still uncertain following its rejection by referendum in Ireland.

Some countries benefitting from the extra seats, such as Spain or Sweden, elected "reserve MEPs" who will take their observer status as soon as national governments take a decision on the matter. But others, notably France, did not. This complicates the matter even further, as they are now likely to send national parliamentarians as observers and hold early European elections for the extra seats once the legal basis for their full powers is in place.

British Liberal MEP Andrew Duff tried to push through an amendment that would have allowed the parliament decide on how to select the observers, not the member states. The move failed to gather the necessary majority, however.

As to the length of the observer status, the cumbersome legal procedures among member states could "take some while," an EU diplomat told this website. A special so-called intergovernmental conference comprising of all EU leaders as well as the heads of the bloc's institutions will be needed to alter the number of seats in the parliament.

The protocol will then have to be ratified by all member states, either as an annex to the Croatian accession treaty or as a document in itself.

So far, it is unclear if the Swedish EU presidency will call for this extra summit by the end of this year or if it will rather be a matter for the next rotating presidency, chaired by Spain, and the new permanent president of the EU council, Herman Van Rompuy.

Before joining the EU in 2004 and 2007, new member states from eastern Europe and the Mediterranean also had "observer" MEPs sent by national parliaments.

In 2004, the 10 countries joined in May and held regular elections in June, together will all the other older member states. In 2007, when Bulgaria and Romania joined, they held early European elections after several months in which the observers were simply "transformed" to full MEPs.

EU opens door to Ukraine in 'geopolitical' summit

EU leaders will also discuss eurozone issues with European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde, as more and more leaders are worried about voters' distress at soaring inflation.

Opinion

The euro — who's next?

Bulgaria's target date for joining the eurozone, 1 January 2024, seems elusive. The collapse of Kiril Petkov's government, likely fresh elections, with populists trying to score cheap points against the 'diktat of the eurocrats', might well delay accession.

News in Brief

  1. New president for European Committee of the Regions
  2. Gas flows from Spain to Morocco, after Western Sahara row
  3. BioNTech, Pfizer test 'universal' coronavirus vaccine
  4. UK sanctions second-richest Russian businessman
  5. Hungary permits emergency supervision of energy firms
  6. Bulgaria expels 70 alleged Russian spies
  7. EU Commission told to improve CAP data analytics
  8. Scotland pushes for second independence vote in 2023

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  2. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  4. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic think tank examines influence of tech giants

Latest News

  1. EU Commission says it cannot find messages with Pfizer CEO
  2. EU ministers sign off on climate laws amid German infighting
  3. EU presidency still looking for asylum relocation pledges
  4. Finland and Sweden to join Nato, as Erdoğan drops veto
  5. The euro — who's next?
  6. One rubicon after another
  7. Green crime-fighting boss urgently required, key MEP says
  8. G7 leaders want price cap on Russian oil

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us