Apportionment in the European Parliament

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The apportionment of seats within the European Parliament to each member state of the European Union is set out by the EU treaties. The apportionment of seats is not proportional to each state's population, nor does it reflect any particular mathematical formula; however, it is stated in the treaties that distribution of seats should be "degressively proportional" to the population of the member states. The process can be compared to the composition of the electoral college used to elect the President of the United States of America in that, pro rata, the smaller state received more places in the electoral college than the more populous states.

As of July 2013, the European Parliament comprises 766 members (MEPs).[1] They include three legacy members from Germany serving until the end of their term and twelve new members from Croatia who joined the Union on 1 July 2013. At the next parliamentary election in 2014 the number of MEPs will revert to 751 — 750 MEPs and a president[2] — this being the maximum number allowed by the Lisbon Treaty. In December 2011 an amendment temporarily increased this limit to 754.[3][4] This allowed member states who gained seats under Lisbon to take them before the next election, while allowing Germany which lost seats under Lisbon to retain them until the next election.

Background[edit]

When the Parliament was established in the 1950s as the 78 member "Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community" the smaller states (Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) were concerned about being underrepresented and hence they were granted more seats than their population would have allowed. Membership increased to 142 with the Assembly expanded to cover the Economic and Atomic Energy Communities.[5]

It then grew further with each enlargement. Membership reached 626 in 1995 with the Treaty of Amsterdam setting a limit of 700. The Treaty of Nice increased this to 732 and set out the future distribution for up to 27 states. In 2007 Romania and Bulgaria joined with 35 and 18 members respectively temporarily pushing the number of members over the ceiling to 785.[5] In 2009 the number of members decreased to 736.

Nice system[edit]

The last European parliamentary elections were conducted under the rules included in the Nice Treaty which provided for a maximum number of 736, although that figure had been breached on the accession of new members to the EU. These state being allowed parliamentary representation without a corresponding reduction in the number of MEPs allotted to other member states. This happened in 2007 on the accession of Romania and Bulgaria joined in 2007, when the number of seats temporarily increased to 785. It subsequently returned to 736 in the 2009 election.[5]

736 seats for about 500 million EU citizens meant that there were on average 670,000 citizens represented by each MEP. Some states divide the electorate for their allocated MEPs into sub-national constituencies. However, they may not be divided in such a way that the system would no longer be proportional.

Number of seats plotted against the population of each State (Nice 2007)
Relative influence of voters from different EU member states (2003)[6]
Member
state
Population
millions
MEPs
Inhabitants
per MEP
Influence
Austria 8.27 17 486,235 1.71
Belgium 10.51 22 477,773 1.74
Bulgaria 7.72 17 454,059 1.83
Cyprus 0.77 6 127,667 6.52
Czech Republic 10.25 22 465,955 1.79
Denmark 5.43 13 417,538 1.99
Estonia 1.34 6 224,000 3.72
Finland 5.26 13 404,308 2.06
France 62.89 72 873,417 0.95
Germany 82.43 99 832,606 1.00
Greece 11.13 22 505,682 1.65
Hungary 10.08 22 458,045 1.82
Ireland 4.21 12 350,750 2.37
Italy 58.75 72 816,000 1.02
Latvia 2.3 8 286,875 2.90
Lithuania 3.4 12 283,583 2.94
Luxembourg 0.46 6 76,667 10.86
Malta 0.4 5 80,800 10.30
Netherlands 16.33 25 653,360 1.27
Poland 38.16 50 763,140 1.09
Portugal 10.57 22 480,455 1.73
Romania 21.61 33 654,848 1.27
Slovakia 5.39 13 414,538 2.01
Slovenia 2 7 286,143 2.91
Spain 43.76 50 875,160 0.95
Sweden 9.05 18 502,667 1.66
United Kingdom 60.64 72 839,194 0.99

Lisbon system[edit]

Under the Lisbon Treaty, the cap on the number of seats was raised to 750, with a maximum of 96 and a minimum of 6 seats per state. They continue to be distributed "degressively proportional" to the populations of the EU's member states.[7] Germany lost three seats, while Spain gained four. France, Sweden and Austria gained two seats each and eight other countries each gained one seat.[8] Following the accession of Croatia on 1 July 2013 with 12 extra seats, the apportionment was amended for the 2014 elections,[9] when 12 countries will lose one seat (including Croatia itself).

European Parliament Apportionment changes between the Treaty of Nice and the Treaty of Lisbon
(as calculated for purposes of the 2009 European Elections)
Member state 2007
Nice
2009
Nice
2014
Lisbon
2014c
+ Croatia
     Member state 2007
Nice
2009
Nice
2014
Lisbon
2014c
+ Croatia
     Member state 2007
Nice
2009
Nice
2014
Lisbon
2014c
+ Croatia
 Germany 99 99 96 96  Czech Republic 24 22 22 21  Slovakia 14 13 13 13
 France 78 72 74 74  Greece 24 22 22 21  Croatia 11
 United Kingdoma 78 72 73 73  Hungary 24 22 22 21  Ireland 13 12 12 11
 Italy 78 72 73 73  Portugal 24 22 22 21  Lithuania 13 12 12 11
 Spain 54 50 54 54  Sweden 19 18 20 20  Latvia 9 8 9 8
 Poland 54 50 51 51  Austria 18 17 19 18  Slovenia 7 7 8 8
 Romania 35 33 33 32  Bulgaria 18 17 18 17  Cyprus 6 6 6 6
 Netherlands 27 25 26 26  Finland 14 13 13 13  Estonia 6 6 6 6
 Belgium 24 22 22 21  Denmark 14 13 13 13  Luxembourg 6 6 6 6

Italicised countries are divided into sub-national constiuencies.
a Includes Gibraltar, but not any other BOT, SBA or Crown dependency
b The speaker is not counted officially, thus leaving 750 MEPs.
c As proposed by European Parliament on 13 March 2013 [9]

 Malta 5 5 6 6
Total: 785 736 751b 751b

There was controversy over the fact that the population figures are based on residents, not citizens, resulting in countries with larger disenfranchised immigrant populations gaining more under Lisbon than those with smaller ones.[10] Italy would have been the greatest loser under the Lisbon system and sought the same number of MEPs as France and the United Kingdom. Italy raised the issue during treaty negotiations and succeeded in gaining one extra MEP (giving it the same as the UK) while the President of the European Parliament would not be counted as a lawmaker hence keeping the number of MEPs to the 750-seat limit.[11] MEPs also intend to propose amendments well in advance of the 2014 elections to take account of demographic changes. It is hoped that this may avoid the political horse trading that occurs when the numbers need to be revised.[8] On 13 March 2013 the European Parliament voted a new proposal updating seat assignments per country for 2014,[9] taking into account demographic changes and bringing total seats back to the nominal 751 enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. The same document suggests to create a formal process in order to assign seats "based on objective criteria to be applied in a pragmatic manner" for future elections.

2011 amendment[edit]

The 2011 apportionment of members in the European Parliament reflects an amendment to the Lisbon Treaty which came into force on 1 December 2011.[12][13] This amendment, in effect, institutes a transitional manner of distributing MEPs to take account of the fact that the 2009 European Parliamentary elections took place under the rules contained in the Nice Treaty and not in the Lisbon Treaty. That result means that member state that are to gain seats in parliament under the Lisbon rules may take them, but that Germany which loses three seats under the Lisbon rules keeps those seats until the next elections, due in 2014.[14] As a result Germany temporarily exceeds the maximum number of MEPs allocatable to a member state under the Lisbon Treaty by having 99 MEPs, three above the intended limit.

Growth in membership[edit]

State Joined
Population
2006
Sep
1952
Mar
1957
Jan
1973
Jun
1979
Jan
1981
Jan
1986
Jun
1994
Jan
1995
May
2004
Jun
2004
Jan
2007
Jun
2009
Dec
2011
Jul
2013
Jun
2014
 Germany 1951 82,428,000 18 36 36 81 81 81 99 99 99 99 99 99 99 99 96
 France 1951 62,886,000 18 36 36 81 81 81 87 87 87 78 78 72 74 74 74
 United Kingdom 1973 60,422,000   36 81 81 81 87 87 87 78 78 72 73 73 73
 Italy 1951 58,752,000 18 36 36 81 81 81 87 87 87 78 78 72 73 73 73
 Spain 1986 43,758,000   60 64 64 64 54 54 50 54 54 54
 Poland 2004 38,157,000   54 54 54 50 51 51 51
 Romania 2007 21,610,000   35 33 33 33 32
 Netherlands 1951 16,334,000 10 14 14 25 25 25 31 31 31 27 27 25 26 26 26
 Greece 1981 11,125,000   24 24 25 25 25 24 24 22 22 22 21
 Portugal 1986 10,570,000   24 25 25 25 24 24 22 22 22 21
 Belgium 1951 10,511,000 10 14 14 24 24 24 25 25 25 24 24 22 22 22 21
 Czech Republic 2004 10,251,000   24 24 24 22 22 22 21
 Hungary 2004 10,077,000   24 24 24 22 22 22 21
 Sweden 1995 9,048,000   22 22 19 19 18 20 20 20
 Austria 1995 8,266,000   21 21 18 18 17 19 19 18
 Bulgaria 2007 7,719,000   18 17 18 18 17
 Denmark 1973 5,428,000   10 16 16 16 16 16 16 14 14 13 13 13 13
 Slovakia 2004 5,389,000   14 14 14 13 13 13 13
 Finland 1995 5,256,000   16 16 14 14 13 13 13 13
 Croatia 2013 4,443,000   12 11
 Ireland 1973 4,209,000   10 15 15 15 15 15 15 13 13 12 12 12 11
 Lithuania 2004 3,403,000   13 13 13 12 12 12 11
 Latvia 2004 2,295,000   9 9 9 8 9 9 8
 Slovenia 2004 2,003,000   7 7 7 7 8 8 8
 Estonia 2004 1,344,000   6 6 6 6 6 6 6
 Cyprus 2004 766,000   6 6 6 6 6 6 6
 Luxembourg 1951 460,000 4 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
 Malta 2004 404,000   5 5 5 5 6 6 6
Total 494,070,000 78 142 198 410 434 518 567 626 788 732 785 736 754 766 751

Source for MEP figures 1952-2004: European NAvigator. Source for population figures and MEP figures for 2007 and 2009: European Parliament, full population figures [1]. December 2011 figures reflect the members added to the European Parliament by the Protocol Amending the Protocol on Transitional Provisions (OJ 29.9.2010, C 263, p. 1) which came into force on 1 December 2011.

2014 Amendment[edit]

Since October 2008,[15] MEP Andrew Duff (ALDE, UK) has advocated within the European Parliament for a reform of EU electoral law for the 2014 elections, including the creation of a single constituency of 25 seats in which each European citizen would be entitled to vote on the basis of pan-European lists. He has been nominated rapporteur, as the European Parliament has the right of initiative in this field ruled by unanimity in the Council.

After the 2009 election, Andrew Duff proposed a new version of his report,[16] which was adopted by the parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) in April 2011. However, the plenary session of the Parliament referred the report back to the AFCO committee in July 2011. A third version of the report [17] was published in September 2011 and adopted by the AFCO committee in January 2012, but was withdrawn before being discussed in plenary in March 2012 for fear that it would likely be turned down.

Apportionment in the European Parliament
Constituency 2007 2009 Dec.

2011[18]

1 July
2013[19]
A. Duff's
1st prop.
for 2014[20][21]
A. Duff's 2nd prop.[22] European
Council
Decision
2014[23]
Population
in 2013[24]
Population
per MEPs
2014 2019 2024
Pan-European - - - - 25 - - - - - -
 Germany 99 99 99 99 96 96 96 96 96 80,523,746 838,789
 France 78 72 74 74 83 79 83 83 74 65,633,194 886,935
 United Kingdom 78 72 73 73 80 76 79 80 73 63,896,071 875,289
 Italy 78 72 73 73 78 75 78 78 73 59,685,227 817,606
 Spain 54 50 54 54 61 58 61 61 54 46,704,308 864,895
 Poland 54 50 51 51 51 51 51 51 51 38,533,299 755,555
 Romania 35 33 33 33 31 31 31 31 32 20,020,074 625,627
 Netherlands 27 25 26 26 25 25 25 25 26 16,779,575 645,368
 Belgium 24 22 22 22 18 20 19 19 21 11,161,642 531,507
 Greece 24 22 22 22 19 20 19 19 21 11,062,508 526,786
 Czech Republic 24 22 22 22 18 20 18 18 21 10,516,125 500,768
 Portugal 24 22 22 22 18 20 18 18 21 10,487,289 499,395
 Hungary 24 22 22 22 17 20 18 17 21 9,908,798 471,848
 Sweden 19 18 20 20 17 18 17 17 20 9,555,893 477,795
 Austria 18 17 19 19 16 17 16 16 18 8,451,860 469,548
 Bulgaria 18 17 18 18 15 16 14 14 17 7,284,552 428,503
 Denmark 14 13 13 13 12 12 12 12 13 5,602,628 430,971
 Finland 14 13 13 13 12 12 12 12 13 5,426,674 417,436
 Slovakia 14 13 13 13 12 12 12 12 13 5,410,836 416,218
 Ireland 13 12 12 12 11 11 11 11 11 4,591,087 417,372
 Croatia 12 11 11 11 11 11 4,262,140 387,467
 Lithuania 13 12 12 12 9 10 9 9 11 2,971,905 270,173
 Slovenia 7 7 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 2,058,821 257,353
 Latvia 9 8 9 9 8 8 8 8 8 2,023,825 252,978
 Estonia 6 6 6 6 7 7 7 7 6 1,324,814 220,802
 Cyprus 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 865,878 144,313
 Luxembourg 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 537,039 89,507
 Malta 5 5 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 421,364 70,227
total 785 736 754 766 776 751 751 751 751 505,701,172 673,370

References[edit]

  1. ^ "European Parliament MEPs: 7th parliamentary term". European Parliament. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Efficient and modern institutions". The Treaty of Lisbon: The treaty at a glance. European Commission. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "18 new MEPs take their seats". European Parliament. 10 January 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "Ratification of Parliament's 18 additional MEPs completed". European Parliament. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "Composition of the European Parliament". European NAvigator. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  6. ^ "Europäische Verfassung: Das Demokratiedefizit". Spiegel Online. 2 October 2003. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "Distribution of EP seats: Constitutional Affairs Committee approvals proposal". Europa.eu. 2 October 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2001. 
  8. ^ a b "Composition of the European Parliament after European elections in June 2009". Europa.eu. 11 October 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2001. 
  9. ^ a b c "Composition of the European Parliament with a view to the 2014 elections". Europa.eu. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  10. ^ Goldirova, Renata (2007-10-12). "Italy seeks to delay MEP seats decision". EU Observer. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  11. ^ Goldirova, Renata (2007-10-19). "EU agrees new 'Lisbon Treaty'". EU Observer. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-19. 
  12. ^ Philip Ebels (14 November 2011). "18 new MEPs to arrive next month". EUOBserver.com. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Ratification details
  14. ^ Protocol Amending the Protocol on Transitional Provisions annexed to the Treaty on European Union, to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and to the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (OJ 29.9.2010, C 263, p. 1).
  15. ^ Euractiv, MEP: 'Radical' electoral reform 'badly needed' for 2014 13 October 2008
  16. ^ Europolitics, Célia Sampol, European elections: Andrew Duff proposes creation of transnational list 26 April 2010
  17. ^ Legislative observatory of the European Parliament, Procedure files on the Proposal for a modification of the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976
  18. ^ Amendments to the protocol on transitional provisions annexed to the EU treaties ratified on 1 December 2011, according to the European Parliament Press release on the ratification of Parliament's 18 additional MEPs, 1 December 2011
  19. ^ Accession of Croatia to the EU in compliance with the Treaty concerning the accession of the Republic of Croatia signed on 9 December 2011
  20. ^ First proposal by Member of European Parliament Andrew Duff in his draft report entitled Proposal for a modification of the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976, published on 4 November 2010
  21. ^ Report of the European Parliament staff, The allocation between the EU member states of seats in the European Parliament - Cambridge Compromise March 2011
  22. ^ Euractiv, Countries set to lose MEPs as their population shrinks, 11 September 2012
  23. ^ Official Journal of the European Union, 2013/312/EU: European Council Decision of 28 June 2013 establishing the composition of the European Parliament, 28 June 2013
  24. ^ Eurostat, as of 1 January 2013; numbers in italic are provisional.

See also[edit]

United States Congressional apportionment