Why does France have five unpaid 'reservist' MEPs?

The Local France
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Why does France have five unpaid 'reservist' MEPs?
The RN is one of four French political parties that will soon have an extra MEP. Photo: AFP

At the most recent European elections, France elected 74 new members of the European Parliament, plus five who will be on the bench for the next few months.


Why does France have reservist MEPs? 

Normally it doesn't. In previous years, France has elected 74 people to the European Parliament. This time it's different and it's the United Kingdom's fault.

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The European Parliament building in Strasbourg. Photo: AFP

Is this Brexit related?

Afraid so. When the UK announced that it wanted to leave the EU, one of the (many) things that was affected was the composition of the European Parliament. Once it was not a member state, the UK would obviously lose all of its 73 MEPs.

The European Parliament decided that most of these seats would simply be scrapped and the parliament would be streamlined from 751 members down to 705.

However the remaining 27 seats would be redistributed among countries that had been left underrepresented - including France, which is in line to get five new members.

Seats in the parliament are allocated based on population numbers, and some countries that have seen demographic changes have been left underrepresented. France is one of these along with Denmark (which gets one extra), Estonia (one), Ireland (two), Spain (five), Croatia (one) Italy (three), the Netherlands (three) Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden (which all get one apiece).  

So this comes into effect now?

No. It was supposed to, because the UK was supposed to be gone by March 29th, but for reasons we won't go into here, that has not happened and in fact the UK took part in the European elections on May 26th and sent back 73 MEPs.

This means that the countries that were supposed to be getting extra members have had to create a "reserve list".

In France, the French parliament has agreed that its five new MEPs-in-waiting will be selected from the lists in the usual way, and informed that they have won a seat, but until the UK leaves they will not take up their seats and will not be paid.

When the French Interior Ministry announced the European election results, it added that once the UK leaves, Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National party will get one extra MEP, Macron's La Republique En Marche, which was less than one per cent behind the RN, will get two, the green party will get one extra, as will Raphael Glucksmann's leftist Envie d'Europe.

This means that  Jean-Lin Lacapelle of the RN, Sando Gozi and Ilana Cicurel of LREM, Claude Gruffat of the greens and Nora Mebarek of Envie d'Europe will all be called up as MEPs once the UK leaves.

And when will that be?

Only a fool would predict that. The current leaving date deadline is October 31st, but the UK has had two previous deadlines that were extended, so who knows?




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