When the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in 2019, the number of seats in the European Parliament will shrink from 751 to 705.

“The composition of the European Parliament is the ultimate expression of the will of European citizens,” said Co-rapporteur Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL). “This is why it is important that the representation of citizens is fair, objective, and in line with EU law. After long and tough negotiations, I am glad that the European Parliament has granted its final consent to our proposal. Engaging citizens in the democratic process is of utmost importance, and I believe that the new composition of our House will motivate our citizens to become more active participants in our democratic process.”

In preparation for the post-Brexit reduction, MEPs on June 13 agreed that 46 of the 73 seats to be freed up should be put in reserve. And, some or all of the 46 seats in the reserve can then be allocated to new countries joining the EU or remain empty, thus reducing the size of parliament. The remaining 27 seats will be re-distributed among the 14 EU countries that are slightly under-represented.

According to a European Parliament press release, the text also stresses that the new allocation will apply only if the United Kingdom leaves the EU. Otherwise, the current arrangements would stay in place until Brexit has been legally completed.

The draft European Council decision was endorsed with 566 votes in favour, 94 against and 31 abstentions.

Commenting on the new composition of the European Parliament, which still requires the formal green light from EU leaders at the summit in Brussels on June 28-29, the Co-rapporteur Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D, PT) said it is a happy end to a very challenging process.

“We have reasons to be satisfied with the final outcome: a fairer allocation of seats, finally complying with the Lisbon Treaty and the principle of degressive proportionality; no loss of seats for any Member State and a reduction in the size of the Parliament that leaves a number of seats available to accommodate potential future enlargements. The new European Parliament will ensure a fairer reflection of the citizens it represents.”