A proposal by the Constitutional Affairs Committee, calling for a number of Members of European Parliament to be elected from an EU-wide electoral constituency, was rejected by the full House in Strasbourg on Wednesday.
The proposal to introduce some pan-EU lawmakers or “trans-national lists” in the wake of Brexit was backed by French President Emmanuel Macron.
MEPs said the Parliament should shrink from 751 to 705 MEPs when the UK leaves the EU, but leave room for new members in the future.
In addition to reducing Parliament’s size from 751 to 705 elected representatives, a proposed re-distribution of seats, approved by the Parliament on Wednesday, would also place 46 of the 73 UK seats to be freed up by Brexit in a reserve, the Parliament said in a press release, adding that some or all of the 46 seats in the reserve could then be reallocated to new countries joining the EU or preserved to keep the institution smaller.
The remaining 27 British seats should be re-distributed among the 14 EU countries that are slightly under-represented, to even out current inequalities in their representation in the House, MEPs said, who also stressed that this allocation would apply only if the UK actually follows through and leaves the EU.
If London opts to reverse its decision and remain within the bloc, the current arrangements would stay in place until further notice.
“In times when democracy as a system is called into question, it is our duty to re-ignite citizens’ passion for democracy,” Co-rapporteur Danuta Hübner, an MEP from Poland, said. “I hope we can take a step in the right direction by approving a distribution of the European Parliament’s seats that is fair, that follows objective principles, and which respects the EU’s Treaty,” she added.