The European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee debated plans to shrink the parliament after the UK has left the European Union to make room for new member states and pan-European electoral lists.

MEPs discussed a new proposal on the re-distribution of parliament’s seats. The proposal suggests cutting 51 of the 73 UK seats from the Parliament after Brexit, bringing the institution down from 751 to 700 elected representatives. These vacated seats would then be kept in store in case of a future EU enlargement, and could also be used for the envisaged pan-European lists of Parliament members.

As for the remaining “minimal fraction” of 22 British seats, the MEPs proposed that these could be re-distributed among the remaining 27 EU countries, to better take into account the principle of “degressive proportionality”.

“We should bear in mind that the current distribution of seats is unfair “, said Pedro Silva Pereira, the Portuguese socialist MEP who is co-rapporteur on the report on the composition of the European Parliament.

“It only partially respects the principle of ‘degressive proportionality’ of the Lisbon Treaty. We know the issue is sensitive. It requires a unanimity in the European Council and for many member states, there is a balance to ensure between their representation in the EP and the voting system in the Council… This new distribution is reasonable, reduces the size of the EP and is politically viable”.