British departure has set in motion an altogether different round of negotiations on the continentby Simon Usherwood / April 25, 2018 / Leave a comment
Among the plethora of changes that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union will bring, it’s sometimes easy to forget that some of those changes will concern the EU itself. Unlike the Council, where the UK is simply removed from the room, the question of what happens to British seats in the European Parliament is proving rather fraught.
At present, the UK has 73 seats, one of the largest national blocs—outsized by only Germany and France. The allocation of seats roughly follows a principle of taking into account a country’s population size, whilst also ensuing small states get enough representatives to allow for different national parties to stand a chance of getting elected.
This model runs by the engagingly technical name of “digressive proportionality” and is embedded in the EU’s treaties, making it not easily changed.
Over time, the European Parliament has grown as new member states have joined. It has now reached 751 MEPs, making it one of the largest elected chambers in the world.
That size now sits at the root of current discussions.
For many member states, the withdrawal of the UK represents an opportunity to reverse that pattern of growth (which has also had cost implications, obviously). Being able to cut down numbers by nearly one-tenth looked like a bit of no-brainer, especially at a time of austerity.