European Parliament has approved the European Council draft decision to reduce the size of the European Union’s legislative body. The reduction is needed in order to comply with the 751-seat limit set by the Lisbon Treaty and to make room for Croatian MEPs.
The changes will apply to the next European Parliament, which will be elected in May 2014. Having received the current legislature’s consent (passed by a vote of 574 in favour, 71 against and 39 abstentions), the last step is for the EU heads of state and government to formally adopt the proposal, which is expected to happen at the EU summit on June 27-28.
Under the re-alignment plan, Germany will lose three MEP seats and will have 96, the maximum allowed under the Lisbon Treaty. The three extra German seats were part of a transitional arrangement that expires at the end of the current parliamentary term, the European Parliament said in a statement.
Twelve EU countries will lose one MEP seat – Romania, Greece, Belgium, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania and Latvia – and no member state will gain any seats. In the next European Parliament, Bulgaria will have 17 MEPs.
The changes were a compromise solution and “the least imperfect one”, according to co-rapporteurs Rafal Trzaskowski and Roberto Gualtieri. The next European Parliament will be tasked with revising this allocation before the 2019 elections, with a proposal to be presented before the end of 2016, which should ensure that seats are distributed in an “objective, fair, durable and transparent way”.
“This should respect the principle of ‘degressive proportionality’, whereby MEPs from larger member states represent more citizens than those from smaller ones, reflect any change in the number of member states and demographic trends, and respect the overall balance of the institutional system,” the European Parliament said.