25th Mar 2018

Tough debate on MEP seats kicks off

At their first meeting after the summer recess, European lawmakers have kicked off a highly political debate about how seats for MEPs should be distributed between 27 EU states – something closely intertwined with other institutional reforms set out in the EU's proposed new treaty.

On Monday (3 September), French conservative Alain Lamassoure and Romanian socialist Adrian Severin presented to the European parliament's constitutional affairs committee their report on the future composition of the 785-strong legislative house.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In the nine-page paper, the two parliamentarians suggested following three main rules.

The total number of deputies in the legislative body should be limited to 750 (there are currently 785), the ceiling for a national delegation would be decreased from 99 to 96 seats and the minimum threshold would rise from five to six seats.

Such rules would slightly reduce the weight of Germany with currently 99 deputies, while Malta with five MEPs would gain an extra one.

Within the three main limits, the seats would be shared on the basis of "degressive proportionality" principle, which the two MEPs' report describes as an "ideal solution".

The principle suggests that "the bigger the population of a member state, the higher must be the number of citizens each MEP represents" and vice versa.

Mr Lamassoure and Mr Severin argue in their report that this "undisputed mathematical formula...would ensure a solution not only for the present revision, but future enlargements or modifications due to demographic changes".

At their last meeting in June, EU leaders expressly asked the parliament to table a recommendation on how to share out the total number of seats by October.

But Mr Lamassoure has predicted the talks will generate "a lot of passion and emotion".

Political pressure is coming from some EU capitals which say the issue is of high importance to them. They are calling for an agreement to be struck before giving their consent to the overall reforms foreseen by the new draft EU Reform Treaty.

A definitive version of the treaty is expected to be rubber stamped by the entire EU bloc in the mid-October, while a new system of the seats redistribution should enter into force with the next parliamentary elections in 2009.

In addition, the Lamassoure-Severin report argues against reserving any seats for EU-hopeful countries, saying "it is not guaranteed that any accession will be completed during the very short term".

Both MEPs in charge of dossier have warned against the failure to sell the idea to EU governments, with Mr Lamassoure pointing out there are only two options – either to agree a new formula or to lose 49 seats.

This is because in case of failure, the present rules would be automatically modified in 2009 in such a way that the total number of deputies would fall to 736. Only Germany, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta would maintain their current numbers. The rest of the member states would lose several seats.

MEPs divided in seats debate

MEPs are divided over a draft report on how their seats should be allocated after the 2009 parliamentary elections with Italian and Irish MEPs feeling hard done by. The authors of the report agreed it was imperfect and only a temporary solution.

Italy seeks to delay MEP seats decision

Just hours before the European Parliament is to vote on a report on how its seats should be allocated in the future, Italian prime minister Romano Prodi has suggested dealing with the political hot potato only after a new EU treaty is ratified.

Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case

In a letter to a coalition of transparency NGOs, the EU executive has repeated that a meeting between its former boss - now working for Goldman Sachs - and the current vice president was "fully in line" with the rules.

Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case

The European Commission repeated that it followed the rules when its former head joined Goldman Sachs - and suggested it will not follow the EU Ombudsman's demand to refer the case back to the ethics committee.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica