The Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament this morning voted in favour of a reduction in the size of the Parliament from 751 to 705 seats for the 2019 elections.
The smaller Parliament arises as 73 UK MEPs will no longer sit in Parliament.
Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the Parliament and a member of the committee welcomed the two additional seats for Ireland.
“Twenty-seven of the UK’s 73 seats will be redistributed to member states to ensure fair representation in the 2019 elections, giving two additional seats for Ireland, which I strongly welcome,” she said.
“Today’s vote also acknowledges that the UK will not contest the 2019 elections. MEPs have recognised that as the EU is getting smaller, the European Parliament should also reduce in size.”
The Committee also voted in favour of transnational lists, and suggested 27 seats should be allocated for this purpose.
She said this morning’s vote was followed by an intense debate about the value or otherwise of transnational seats, which will continue to be discussed in the lead-up to the vote in Parliament in February.
“Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week in Strasbourg spoke in favour of transnational lists. He said: ‘In terms of improving democracy within the EU, I support a Europe-wide list for the European Parliament. Let’s get people in cafes in Naples and restaurants in Galway talking about the same election choices.’
If transnational lists were to become a reality, then 27 seats would be allocated for this list. The practical application of this concept has not been fully teased out and it is not at all certain that they will get the green light for the 2019 elections, McGuinness added.
“This is a time of change, arising from Brexit and with the UK leaving it is positive that there will be two additional Irish voices in the European Parliament,” McGuinness said.