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 the 2014 parliamentary election the number of MEPs is 751 — 750 MEPs and a president[1] — this being the maximum number allowed by the Lisbon Treaty.

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.[2]

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.[2] In 2009 the number of members decreased to 736.

In December 2011 an amendment had temporarily increased the Lisbon limit to 754.[3][4] This allowed member states who gained seats under Lisbon to take them before the 2014 election, while allowing Germany which lost seats under Lisbon to retain them until the 2014 election.

In July 2013, the European Parliament had 766 members (MEPs).[5] This included 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.

Nice system[edit]

The 2009 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 states 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, when the number of seats temporarily increased to 785. It subsequently returned to 736 in the 2009 election.[2]

A total of 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, which first applied to the 2014 Parliament elections, 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 lost 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 constituencies.
a Includes Gibraltar, but not any other BOT (including the SBAs), nor the Crown dependencies
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 intended to propose amendments well in advance of the 2014 elections to take account of demographic changes. It was hoped that this would 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 the total number of seats back to the nominal 751 enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. The same document suggests the creation of a formal process "based on objective criteria to be applied in a pragmatic manner" for apportioning seats in 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.

Changes in membership[edit]

State Joined
Population
2006
Population
2017
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
Jun
2019
 Germany 1951 82,428,000 82,521,653 18 36 36 81 81 81 99 99 99 99 99 99 99 99 96 96
 France 1951 62,886,000 66,989,083 18 36 36 81 81 81 87 87 87 78 78 72 74 74 74 79
 United Kingdom 1973 60,422,000 65,808,573   36 81 81 81 87 87 87 78 78 72 73 73 73 N/A
 Italy 1951 58,752,000 60,589,445 18 36 36 81 81 81 87 87 87 78 78 72 73 73 73 76
 Spain 1986 43,758,000 46,528,024   60 64 64 64 54 54 50 54 54 54 59
 Poland 2004 38,157,000 37,972,964   54 54 54 50 51 51 51 52
 Romania 2007 21,610,000 19,644,350   35 33 33 33 32 33
 Netherlands 1951 16,334,000 17,081,507 10 14 14 25 25 25 31 31 31 27 27 25 26 26 26 29
 Belgium 1951 10,511,000 11,351,727 10 14 14 24 24 24 25 25 25 24 24 22 22 22 21 21
 Greece 1981 11,125,000 10,768,193   24 24 25 25 25 24 24 22 22 22 21 21
 Czech Republic 2004 10,251,000 10,578,820   24 24 24 22 22 22 21 21
 Portugal 1986 10,570,000 10,309,573   24 25 25 25 24 24 22 22 22 21 21
 Sweden 1995 9,048,000 9,995,153   22 22 19 19 18 20 20 20 21
 Hungary 2004 10,077,000 9,797,561   24 24 24 22 22 22 21 21
 Austria 1995 8,266,000 8,772,865   21 21 18 18 17 19 19 18 19
 Bulgaria 2007 7,719,000 7,101,859   18 17 18 18 17 17
 Denmark 1973 5,428,000 5,748,769   10 16 16 16 16 16 16 14 14 13 13 13 13 14
 Finland 1995 5,256,000 5,503,297   16 16 14 14 13 13 13 13 14
 Slovakia 2004 5,389,000 5,435,343   14 14 14 13 13 13 13 14
 Ireland 1973 4,209,000 4,784,383   10 15 15 15 15 15 15 13 13 12 12 12 11 13
 Croatia 2013 4,443,000 4,154,213   12 11 12
 Lithuania 2004 3,403,000 2,847,904   13 13 13 12 12 12 11 11
 Slovenia 2004 2,003,000 2,065,895   7 7 7 7 8 8 8 8
 Latvia 2004 2,295,000 1,950,116   9 9 9 8 9 9 8 8
 Estonia 2004 1,344,000 1,315,635   6 6 6 6 6 6 6 7
 Cyprus 2004 766,000 854,802   6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
 Luxembourg 1951 460,000 590,667 4 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
 Malta 2004 404,000 460,297   5 5 5 5 6 6 6 6
Total 494,070,000 511,522,671 78 142 198 410 434 518 567 626 788 732 785 736 754 766 751 705

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. Figures for 2019 follow parliamentary decision of February 2018.[2][3]

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.

Number of seats in EP 2014-2019 versus number of inhabitants, showing difference with proportionality.
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

2019 election[edit]

The EU needs to revise the apportionment of seats in time for the next European Parliament election, expected to be held in June 2019, when the United Kingdom's 73 MEPs will have vacated their seats following Brexit. In April 2017, a group of European lawmakers discussed what should be done about the vacated seats. One plan, supported by Gianni Pittella and Emmanuel Macron, was to replace the 73 seats with a pan-European constituency list; other options were to drop the British seats without replacement, or to reassign some or all of the existing seats from other countries to reduce inequality of representation.[25][26]

In February 2018, the Parliament approved a plan to reduce the number of seats to 705. It involves redistributing 27 seats to under-represented members, and reserving the remaining 46 for future EU expansion. The proposal to create a pan-European constituency was rejected at the same time.[27]

Apportionment in the European Parliament
Country 2007 2009 Dec.

2011[28]

July
2013
2014 Proposals for 2019 after the
removal of UK seats[25][26]
Population
Cambridge Compromise Decision
(Feb 2018)
Change
from 2014
2017[29] Thousands
per MEP
Minimizing
Gini[30]
Minimizing
malapportionment
 Germany 99 99 99 99 96 96 96 96 Steady 82,521,653 860
 France 78 72 74 74 74 79 96 79 Increase +5 66,989,083 848
 United Kingdom 78 72 73 73 73
 Italy 78 72 73 73 73 73 89 76 Increase +3 60,589,445 797
 Spain 54 50 54 54 54 57 70 59 Increase +5 46,528,024 789
 Poland 54 50 51 51 51 47 58 52 Increase +1 37,972,964 730
 Romania 35 33 33 33 32 27 33 33 Increase +1 19,644,350 595
 Netherlands 27 25 26 26 26 24 29 29 Increase +3 17,081,507 589
 Belgium 24 22 22 22 21 18 21 21 Steady 11,351,727 541
 Czech Republic 24 22 22 22 21 17 20 21 Steady 10,578,820 504
 Greece 24 22 22 22 21 17 20 21 Steady 10,768,193 513
 Hungary 24 22 22 22 21 16 19 21 Steady 9,797,561 467
 Portugal 24 22 22 22 21 17 20 21 Steady 10,309,573 491
 Sweden 19 18 20 20 20 16 19 21 Increase +1 9,995,153 476
 Austria 18 17 19 19 18 15 18 19 Increase +1 8,772,865 462
 Bulgaria 18 17 18 18 17 13 15 17 Steady 7,101,859 418
 Denmark 14 13 13 13 13 12 13 14 Increase +1 5,748,769 411
 Finland 14 13 13 13 13 12 13 14 Increase +1 5,503,297 393
 Slovakia 14 13 13 13 13 12 13 14 Increase +1 5,435,343 388
 Ireland 13 12 12 12 11 11 12 13 Increase +2 4,784,383 368
 Croatia 12 11 10 11 12 Increase +1 4,154,213 346
 Lithuania 13 12 12 12 11 9 9 11 Steady 2,847,904 259
 Latvia 9 8 9 9 8 8 8 8 Steady 1,950,116 244
 Slovenia 7 7 8 8 8 8 8 8 Steady 2,065,895 258
 Estonia 6 6 6 6 6 7 7 7 Increase +1 1,315,635 188
 Cyprus 6 6 6 6 6 6 7 6 Steady 854,802 142
 Luxembourg 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 Steady 590,667 98
 Malta 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 Steady 460,297 77
Total 785 736 754 766 751 639 736 705 Decrease –46 511,522,671 726

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Efficient and modern institutions". The Treaty of Lisbon: The treaty at a glance. European Commission. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Composition of the European Parliament". European NAvigator. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  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. ^ "European Parliament MEPs: 7th parliamentary term". European Parliament. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  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 Archived December 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. 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.
  25. ^ a b "MEPs debate who inherits British seats". politico.eu. Retrieved 12 April 2017. 
  26. ^ a b c "Is Brexit an opportunity to reform the European Parliament?" [pdf]
  27. ^ "Size of Parliament to shrink after Brexit" (Press release). European Parliament. 7 February 2018. Retrieved 28 May 2018. 
  28. ^ 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
  29. ^ "Population on 1 January". Eurostat. Retrieved 29 May 2018. 
  30. ^ The Gini coefficient defines how equal (or unequal) is the distribution of seats among member states represented in the parliament. According to ref. [26], the Gini coefficient of the European Parliament, before changes coming from brexit, is 17.5%, making it very unequal; as a point of comparison, the US House of representative scores a 2.2%, the German Bundestag 3.4%.

See also[edit]

United States Congressional apportionment