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MEPs propose new European Parliament makeup after Brexit

23 January 2018

Proposals for a new makeup for the European Parliament following Brexit have been put forward by a committee of MEPs.

The Constitutional Affairs Committee recommends that the total number of MEPs be cut from the present 751 to 705, with 27 of the UK's 73 seats being distributed among the 14 EU countries that are currently slightly underrepresented. The remaining 46 seats would be held in reserve to be reallocated to new countries joining the EU, and/or pan-European electoral lists.

The latter, if EU electoral law is amended to allow it, would comprise MEPs elected from an EU-wide electoral constituency, in a number matching the number of EU countries, with the idea of strengthening the sense of EU citizenship and the European character of elections to the Parliament. The move would require a unanimous decision by ministers in the EU Council and ratification by all member states.

In the event of the UK not leaving the EU, the current arrangements would stay.

Under article 14(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the number of MEPs cannot exceed 750, plus the President. Representation is to be “degressively proportional”, with a minimum of six members per member state and a maximum of 96. No smaller state shall receive more seats than a larger state, and the population/seats ratio shall increase as population increases, before rounding to whole numbers.

The MEPs also pointed out that Northern Irish citizens, under the Good Friday Agreement, also have an inherent right to Irish and therefore EU citizenship.

Co-rapporteur Danuta Hübner commented: "One of the main challenges of this report was on how to deal with the legacy of Brexit. We felt the need to respond to the fact that a big member state is leaving, so we understood the importance of a smaller EP, which is able to continue working for the good of the EU’s citizens. We hope that the new composition of the Parliament will reinvigorate citizens' participation in the European democratic process."

Once the proposals have been approved by the full Parliament, they will be put to the European Council (EU heads of state or governments) for a unanimous decision, and then returned to Parliament for a final yes/no vote. The plenary vote is scheduled for the February session in Strasbourg.

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