Call for more MEPs in the European Parliament

IF – 07/2023

The next European elections will be held from 6 to 9 June 2024.  MEPs want to increase the number of seats even before the election. However, this wish is not easy to implement, because any change to the present electoral law as well as to the current distribution of seats in the European Parliament must be approved by the heads of state and government in the European Council.

Setting the course before the European elections

One year before the European elections, two MEPs, the conservative Loránt Vincze (EPP, RO) and the leftist Sandro Goz (Renew/PL), submitted a report about the composition of the European Parliament to the Inter-constitutional Committee (AFCO). In principle, the European Parliament's proposal provides for the number of MEPs to be increased from the current 705 to 716. A total of nine member states would benefit from this.

Demographic change as the justification

In most cases the aim of changing the number of seats is to strengthen smaller member states. However, this is not the case with the current report. Demographic developments since the last European election in 2019 have been used as the justification for the requested additional eleven mandates. According to a study made by the Parliamentary Research Service, demographic changes are especially noticeable in Spain and the Netherlands. Both countries would receive two more mandates according to the report. Seven more countries would also be beneficiaries, such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia. The final report was approved in the penultimate plenary session before the parliamentary summer break in June. The proposal for a European Council decision was adopted by 316 votes in favour, 169 against and 67 abstentions.

European Council is being challenged

The European Council will have to take a unanimous decision in order to comply with the report and the wishes of MEPs. This would then be returned to the European Parliament for another vote. The institutions need to act swiftly in order to ensure that the necessary changes are not only decided at the Brussels level and that the respective electoral laws in the member states can also be changed. The entire process would not only be delayed but also called into question if there were to be disagreements at the political level, as would be the event of a divergence by a single country, . Although progress made in the past on revising EU electoral law has been repeatedly blocked by some countries, the two rapporteurs expect unanimous approval by the European Council.