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EP committee backs treaty change to allow 18 additional MEPs

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Euro-MPs from the Constitutional Affairs Committee gave their support today to a modification of the Lisbon Treaty that would allow 18 new Members of the European Parliament to take their seats during the ongoing legislature. They did not consider it necessary to call a Convention to discuss the treaty change.

According to the Committee, the number of MEPs needs to be increased because the June European Parliament elections were held under the rules of the Nice Treaty, which sets the number of MEPs at 736, while the new Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1st December 2009, allows 751 seats.

The Lisbon Treaty provides for twelve countries to send new MEPs to Brussels and Strasbourg: Spain will get four new seats; Austria, France and Sweden will get two, while Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom will all have one more MEP. The only country to have fewer MEPs under the new treaty is Germany, which loses three seats, from 99 to 96. As all 99 current German Members will continue their mandate until the end of this legislature, the number of MEPs will temporarily rise to 754. In order for this to be possible, a treaty change is necessary.

Council has therefore made a proposal to amend the Lisbon Treaty and is now consulting Parliament. If Parliament approves the proposal, it will still need to be ratified by all 27 Member States. Meanwhile, the 18 new MEPs could be invited as observers, but Parliament has not yet made any decisions on when this might happen.

The Constitutional Affairs Committee also agreed with Council's recommendation not to summon a Convention to officialise the treaty change. Calling a Convention is a possibility written into the Lisbon Treaty, and Parliament's consent is needed for any treaty changes taking place without a Convention.

The resolution on the treaty change was adopted by 16 votes in favour, 5 against and 2 abstentions. The recommendation on not convening a Convention was adopted by 17 votes in favour, 5 against and 1 abstention. Both were drafted by Íñigo Méndez De Vigo (EPP, ES). Parliament is expected to vote on these issues at the Brussels additional plenary to be held on 5 and 6 May.

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