MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday decided on reducing the number of 46 seats for the 2019-2024 euro-parliamentary period following Brexit, with the redeployment of another 27 seats, which belonged to the U.K.
A large majority of MEPs re-affirmed their commitment to “Spitzenkandidaten” system, according to which the candidate of the political group that will have the most elected members in the next European Parliament will belong to the country whose next president of the European Commission.
The resolution passed approved with 457 votes in favour, 200 against and 20 abstentions, while the report that included a proposal for the establishment of a joint constituency covering the whole EU that would vote on pan-European electoral lists, in addition to the number of seats allocated to each country, was rejected in the final plenary vote.
U.K. seats to be frozen in view of future accession
The European People’s Party (EPP), Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the European United Left (GUE) introduced a proposal that would “freeze” 46 of the 73 British seats and leave them to be distributed to future EU members. The other 27 UK seats would be distributed among the 14 EU countries that are currently “underrepresented”.
The maximum number of MEPs allowed by EU treaties is 751. The new rules would come into force in time for the 2019 European elections but will have to be approved by the European Council.
MEP seats redistribution via degressive, proportionality
According to the approved proposal, the smaller member states should have fewer MEPs than bigger countries, while MEPs from larger countries should represent more people than MEPs from smaller countries, leading to smaller countries’ stronger representation in the Parliament.
Macron’s “pan-European lists” rejected
The report drafted by the constitutional affairs committee included a proposal for establishing an EU-wide joint constituency to vote on pan-European electoral lists, in addition to the seats allocated to each country. Τhe proposal was struck down after the centre-right EPP said there was no legal basis for the list.
Greek EPP MEP Maria Spyraki, told New Europe that New Democracy MEPs voted according to the EPP’s opinion, as EU citizens should have the right to decide.
“Pan-European lists would take away a citizens right to decide”. Spyraki added that “pan-European lists would lead to a new “elite-driven project”, as the “new European elite would not be able to be close to the citizens that voted for them”.
Spyraki said the reaffirmation of “Spitzenkandidats” would be a good step forwards as citizens that vote for each MEP will be able to know who the MEP plans to support for the European Commission presidency.
Macron said he still supports the idea, and that the EU heads of state must still vote on the issue, ahead of the May 2019 European Parliament elections.
“France will continue to defend this idea in the future because it would contribute to strengthening European democracy by creating debates on European challenges and not strictly on national issued during EU elections,” Macron’s office said in a statement.