Dublin MEP, Brian Hayes has today (Sunday) said that it would be a mistake to reallocate the 73 British seats of the European Parliament to the remaining 27 member states following Brexit. Once the UK leaves the EU, the Lisbon Treaty makes it possible for the reallocation to take place after the conclusion of the negotiation.
“UK Prime Minister, Theresa May has said she will trigger the formal process of leaving the EU by the end of March next year. From the moment that Article 50 is triggered, the exit process should last no longer than 2 years, however it is possible to extend this through a unanimous decision of all EU Member States.
“The next European Parliament elections will take place in May 2019. Given the decision of the British people it would not make sense that British representation after 2019 should continue.”
“Under the Lisbon Treaty the number of MEPs cannot exceed 751, which is the current number of MEPs – including the UK’s 73 seats. There is no article in the Treaty that says we must have a minimum number of MEPs. The rules only stipulate the maximum and minimum number a Member State can have. Germany has the maximum amount of 96 while Malta has the minimum of 6.”
“If the reallocation of seats occurs ahead of the European Elections in May 2019, it has been reported that Ireland could gain one extra MEP seat. Having one extra Irish MEP, in a circumstance where larger member states gain significantly more MEPs, would not extend Ireland’s influence in Parliament. In fact having a smaller parliament may help to give us more influence.”
“The British seats should instead be reserved for future EU enlargement. I also believe there is a need to keep the number of seats consistent. Because of EU enlargement, the number of Irish MEPS has decreased over recent years. In 2004 Ireland elected 15 MEPs, in 2009 12 MEPs and in 2014 11 MEPs.
“Rather than increasing the number once again and then potentially decreasing it after the next phase of enlargement, it would be better to keep the number at 11 seats,” concluded MEP Hayes.