The European Parliament should shrink from 751 to 705 MEPs when the UK leaves the EU, to make room for EU-wide electoral lists, say Constitutional Affairs MEPs.  

Besides reducing Parliament’s size from 751 to 705 elected representatives, a proposed re-distribution of seats, approved by the Constitutional Affairs Committee on Tuesday, would also place 46 of the 73 UK seats to be freed up by Brexit in a reserve. 

The 46 seats in the reserve could then be reallocated to new countries joining the EU and/or pan-European electoral lists. The other 27 former UK seats would be distributed among the 14 EU countries that are currently slightly under-represented. 


Pan-European electoral lists 

The committee agreed that the number of MEPs elected from an EU-wide electoral constituency in the future should match the number of EU countries, as soon as the completion of the ongoing EU electoral law reform allows it. Sixteen seats would be put in “reserve” in case of a future enlargement. 

Introducing such a transnational constituency would strengthen the sense of EU citizenship and the European character of elections to Parliament, say MEPs. 

However, completing the electoral law would require a unanimous decision by ministers in the Council of the EU and ratification by all member states. 


New allocation of seats among 27 member states  

The remaining 27 British seats ought to be re-distributed among the 14 EU countries that are slightly under-represented, to even out current inequalities in their representation in the House, says the committee.  

MEPs also stress that this allocation would apply only if the UK actually leaves the EU. Otherwise the current arrangements would stay. 

The proposal for a European Council decision was approved on Tuesday by 21 votes to 4 with 0 abstentions. 


Brexit and Northern Ireland 

Even though Brexit is to take Northern Ireland out of the EU, MEPs stress that Northern Irish citizens, under the Good Friday Agreement, also have an inherent right to Irish and therefore EU citizenship.