Under current rules, the number of MEPs for the next legislature, 2009-2014, would be 736. However, the June 2007 European Council decided to raise the number from 736 to 750.
Intergovernmental conference mandate to reform the treaties
The mandate which the government leaders drew up at the June summit for the intergovernmental conference (IGC), which is to finalise the Reform Treaty, maintains the procedure and the principles of Parliament's composition formulated in the draft constitutional treaty. In fact, the June 2007 European Council conclusions call on Parliament to "pave the way for settling the issue of the future composition of the European Parliament in good time before the 2009 elections".
This decision should respect the following principles:
─ the maximum number of MEPS would be 750,
─ the maximum number of seats attributed to a Member State is to be lowered from 99 to 96 (at present, only Germany has the maximum of 99 seats),
─ the minimum number of seats allocated to any Member State is to be raised from 5 to 6 (at present, only Malta has five seats), and
─ seats are to be allocated according to a “degressive proportionality” principle.
The "degressive proportionality" principle
Although, in practice, seats have always been allocated in accordance with a degressive proportionality principle, this is the first time this principle has been clearly established in the treaties. The European Council mandate did not provide for any definition of this principle.
To flesh out the "degressive proportionality" concept, Messrs Lamassoure and Severin propose that any distribution of seats should obey a series of principles, including:
the principle of “European solidarity”, whereby bigger Member States accept fewer seats than they would receive if the total were divided exactly in proportion to population, in order to allow for better representation of less-densely populated states,
In their draft report, the two MEPs also stressed the need to establish, in the near future, a more stable and fairer system for deciding on the allocation of seats, so as to take account of demographic and degressive proportionality principles in future revisions.
Act of accession of Bulgaria and Romania, 2005
At the start of the present legislature, the number of seats was 732, allocated according to the Act of accession of 2003 which governed the enlargement of the Union to 25 Member States.
With the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, in mid-legislature, the number was temporarily increased to 785, to include MEPs from these two countries (18 for Bulgaria and 35 for Romania), without obliging any MEPs to give up their seats in mid-term.
The same Act, which amended the Nice Treaty's provisions, set the post-2009 size of the Parliament at 736 members.
Since the reform mandate brings the number of seats up to 750, there are 14 seats to be allocated. To this figure, two seats should be added, since Germany would automatically lose 3 seats due to the 96 cap and Malta would gain one. Therefore, the final figure of the seats to be distributed, as compared to the current rules, is 16.