* 12 EU members to lose 1 seat each, Germany gives up 3 *
With Croatia joining the European Union this year, it will be entitled to 12 seats in the European Parliament which will result in some member states losing EP seats in order to make room and comply with the 751-seat limit set by the Lisbon Treaty.
Under the solution adopted by Parliament on Wednesday, and subject to a unanimous nod from heads of state, When Croatia joins the EU the total number of MEPs will increase from the current 754 to 766 and after the next European elections in May 2014, a total of 15 seats must be given up.
Under the proposed solution Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal and Romania would each lose one seat. The remaining three have to come from Germany, whose share must go down from 99 seats to 96, the maximum allowed by the Lisbon Treaty.
Cyprus, Malta, Luxembourg and Estonia, each with populations near or below 1 mln, will keep the minimum 6 MEPs allocated to them.
The allocation of seats for the 2014-2019 parliamentary term "should not be arbitrary but should instead be based on objective criteria to be applied in a pragmatic manner", says the resolution adopted by 536 votes to 111, with 44 abstentions. Demographic changes should be taken into account, while ensuring that "losses are limited to a maximum of one seat per member state", it adds.
"If we wanted to have a smooth progression from the smallest to the biggest state when it comes to the number of citizens represented by a single member of this House (...) we would have to have a more radical solution, where some member states would gain seats and some would lose more than one. But could we realistically see a radical solution accepted either by this House or by the Council?", said co-rapporteur Rafał Trzaskowski (EPP, Poland). This is the "least imperfect of the possible solutions", added Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, Italy).
Looking ahead to the 2019 elections, Parliament undertakes to table a new proposal before the end of 2015 to establish a system which will make it possible, before each European election, to allocate seats among member states in an "objective, fair, durable and transparent way".
This system should take account of any increase in the number of member states and demographic trends, "without excluding the possibility of reserving a number of seats to members elected on transnational lists", Parliament added.
The new system for allocating seats should also be considered together with an overhaul of voting methods in the Council of Ministers, as part of an overall reform of the EU treaties. This reform should be drawn up in a European Convention and should recognise that "the basis for Union democracy is the representation of both citizens and member states".
Parliament's proposal will now be sent to the heads of state and government in the European Council, who must decide by a unanimous vote. To take effect, that decision will still need Parliament's consent.
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