Five future French MEPs on ‘reserve list’ in case of Brexit

The European Parliament in Strasbourg. [Shutterstock]

While waiting for Brexit to happen, France has set up a mechanism to redistribute seats currently reserved for UK MEPs. EURACTIV France reports.

In the case of Brexit, the last five French elected representatives will be on France’s “reserve list”, and will have to be patient before joining the European Parliament.

In the European elections to be held in France on 26 May, voters will have to choose between 79 MEPs from 34 lists. But of these 79 elected representatives, only 74 will immediately have seats in the European Parliament. Five will remain on the ‘bench’, waiting for the UK to leave on 31 October.

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The UK is set to remain in the EU until 31 October and take part in next month’s European elections, after Theresa May accepted a new extension granted by EU leaders in the early hours of Thursday morning (11 April) that will prevent the UK crashing out of the bloc at the end of the week.

The Brits decided to leave the EU following the Brexit referendum in 2016. Although the decision initially prompted the EU to anticipate electoral reform for the 2019 European elections, extending the period under Article 50 eventually warranted British participation in the elections.

After Brexit, 27 of the 73 MEP seats held by the UK will be reallocated to  MEPs from 14 EU member states.

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In a somewhat heated debate on Monday (11 September), the European Parliament constitutional affairs committee inched forward the creation of transnational parliamentary lists, seizing the opportunity provided by Brexit.

This redistribution operation, which is indexed according to population trends, has enabled France to acquire five additional seats, bringing the number of French elected officials in Brussels to 79 once Brexit happens. But with Brexit still on hold, countries that were granted additional MEPs had to adapt.

On the French side, the situation was clarified on 13 May during a vote in the French National Assembly.

The bill passed by the Assembly provides for “a simultaneous election of 79 representatives for France, including five additional representatives whose entry into office will be deferred in case the UK is still a member of the European Union at the start of the 2019-2024 legislature”.

This means that candidates who obtain the last five seats of the allocated 79, will be retained based on the proportional representation with the highest average.

If there is a tie for the 74th seat, the list with the most elected members will win the seat. In the event of another tie, the lowest average will decide between the candidates.

“We have a duty and responsibility to act quickly,” so that European elections can “take place without uncertainty”, said French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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