Thursday

19th Jul 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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

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.

Investigation

Commission accused of cherry picking job applicants

A pilot project scheme is giving preferential treatment for interns to land highly sought-after jobs at the European Commission - bypassing the lengthy open competition for everyone else seeking the same position.

Investigation

Commission accused of cherry picking job applicants

A pilot project scheme is giving preferential treatment for interns to land highly sought-after jobs at the European Commission - bypassing the lengthy open competition for everyone else seeking the same position.

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  2. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  3. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs
  4. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's 'Stop Soros' law
  5. EU warns Turkey on anti-terror bill
  6. Report: EU secretly scorns UK's Brexit paper
  7. Hungary: UN treaty could 'inspire millions' of migrants
  8. Nato reacts after Trump disparages Montenegro

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us