The European Council has approved a proposal to extend a 5% threshold to enter the European Parliament for states with more than 35 MEPs.

The political initiative came from Germany’s biggest political parties, that is, the Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian sister party (CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD).

The initiative does not introduce an unprecedented principle. EU regulation allows member states to make “national provisions” during European elections, including the delineation of constituencies and the introduction of electoral thresholds.

With the law as it stands, a Member State may set a minimum threshold, which may not exceed 5%, for the allocation of seats (Article 2A). Several Member States already apply a threshold: this is set at 5% in France, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary; it is set at 4% in Austria, Italy and Sweden; and it is set at 3% in Greece and 1.8% in Cyprus.

However, this new regulation negotiated over the course of three years raises the bar across all major European constituencies, cutting across “national provisions.”

On Thursday, June 7, the Council (at ambassadors’ level) reached agreement on new measures to update the 1976 Electoral Act. Τhe European Parliament is currently expected to vote on the text αt its plenary session in July. After that member states will ratify the law in national parliaments before it is formally adopted by the European Council.

The projected political effect is that from the elections of 2024 onwards, extremely small parties – like the German Free Voters, the Pirate Party and the neo-Nazi NPD – will no longer be able to gain seats, DW notes. Currently, such small German parties occupy 7 of the 96 German seats.