At the moment the Parliament boasts 751 seats, which is the maximum number allowed by the EU treaties. The report proposes to redistribute 27 of the UK's 73 seats to other countries, while keeping the remaining 46 seats for future enlargements. This would mean the number of MEPs to be elected would be 705.
Distribution of seats: no losers
The redistribution of seats proposed by MEPs ensures that no EU country would lose any seats, while some would gain anything from one to five seats to redress under-representation following demographic changes.
The proposal takes into account the population of member states and follows the principle of degressive proportionality. That means that countries that are smaller in terms of population should have fewer MEPs than bigger countries. At the same time, MEPs from larger countries should represent more people than MEPs from smaller countries. In this way, members from smaller countries have a relatively stronger presence in Parliament.
MEPs propose that the new distribution comes in force only after the UK has left the EU. This is currently expected to happen at the end of March 2019.
In addition the Conference of Presidents, consisting of Parliament President Antonio Tajani and the political group leaders, have proposed to the Council that the European elections should be held from 23 May to 26 May 2019.
The report drafted by the constitutional affairs committee included a proposal of establishing a joint constituency on the entire territory of the EU that would vote on pan-European electoral lists, in addition to the seats allocated to each country. This text was rejected in the final plenary vote.
Why redistribution is necessary
At present, there is no precise formula to determines the number of MEPs that each country has, with only a few general rules set out in Article 14 of the Treaty on European Union. This means that a decision needs to be taken by heads of state before each EU election.
EU elections and the Commission president post
In a separate report adopted on 7 February, MEPs reiterated their support for the so-called spitzenkandidaten process introduced in 2014. This means European political parties nominate their candidate for the president of the European Commission ahead of the European elections.
MEPs argue that the process establishes a link between the choice of Commission President and the outcome of the elections and say Parliament is ready to reject any candidate for the post who has not come through this process.
Parliament’s proposal on the distribution of seats will be submitted to EU heads of state who need to reach a unanimous decision. Parliament will then have to give its final consent.
MEPs in charge of steering the plans through Parliament