To prepare for the arrival of ten new Member States in May 2004, the European Parliament decided, as soon as it had given the green light for enlargement, to welcome into its ranks 162 observer MPs from these countries. The observers took part in Parliament’s work until 1 May 2004, when the new Member States appointed fully-fledged MEPs for the few weeks before the European elections. After the elections of 10-13 June 2004 these countries will send directly elected MEPs to the European Parliament.
Since there were 626 Members of the European Parliament before 1 May, the total number of MEPs has now risen temporarily to 788, but only until the June 2004 elections. After these elections, the number of MEPs from the present Member States will be reduced proportionally, bringing the total down to 732, in accordance with the Nice Treaty. The accession of Bulgaria and Romania during the 2004-2009 parliamentary term would add a further 54 Members, bringing the total up to 786. However, following the European elections of 2009, the number of seats for MEPs from the then 27 Member States would again be reduced, this time to 736.
The arrival of ten new Member States also has major practical implications for Parliament. Apart from taking in the new MEPs, the EP is recruiting some 850 additional staff to reinforce the existing 3700 personnel. Of the new recruits, some 70% will work on translation and interpretation. Parliament is also providing extra offices and other infrastructure. And with ten new countries joining the EU, the number of languages to be used within the European Parliament has increased from 11 to 20.