BRUSSELS — An extra 15 MEPs will take up their seats in the European Parliament following next year’s EU elections, after governments struck a preliminary agreement on the size and shape of its composition.
The biggest winners are France, Spain and the Netherlands, as each of these countries will gain two MEPs, while the countries that will add one more are Austria, Belgium, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Latvia, Ireland and Denmark, according to a document from the Council of the EU dated July 26. No country will lose any spots in the hemicycle.
The changes — which still need formal legal approval by the European Council and the Parliament itself — will take the number of seats from 705 to 720 between 2024 and 2029.
The Parliament — which doesn’t have the power to decide on its own composition alone — had sketched out a slightly different shape for itself, which would have brought the increase to only 716. In the negotiations between governments, France, Belgium and Poland won the arguments to add four seats for them on top of that.
Seats are distributed according to a calculation that takes account of changes in population size but also slightly over-represents the smallest EU member countries.
Wouter Wolfs, a researcher at KU Leuven’s Public Governance Institute, wrote that France, Belgium and Poland were the “big winners” because their extra seats were “not necessarily required” to stay in keeping with the principles governing the Parliament’s composition.
“The Council decision goes beyond what was strictly necessary,” MEP Loránt Vincze, one of the lead authors of the Parliament’s stance, wrote to POLITICO. “We will discuss the decision in the European Parliament after the summer recess,” he said.
MEP Sandro Gozi, who also co-wrote the Parliament’s stance on its composition, welcomed the additional seats for France, Belgium and Poland but described it as “very wrong” that there is no reference to the EU-wide constituency. “We won’t give up,” he said.