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European Union Act 2011

Part 2: Implementation of Transitional Protocol on MEPs

31.The Treaty of Lisbon provides for an increase of 18 Members to the overall number of Members of the European Parliament (‘MEPs’), allocated among 12 Member States (including an increase in the number of UK MEPs from 72 to 73). This change in MEP numbers was not put into effect when the last European Parliamentary elections were held in June 2009 because the Treaty of Lisbon had not yet entered into force. Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Government agreed to a Transitional Protocol, in an Inter-Governmental Conference on 23 June 2010, to allow the additional MEPs to take up their seats in the European Parliament during the current term of office instead of waiting until the next scheduled European Parliamentary elections in 2014, and without the corresponding reduction in the number of MEPs allocated to Germany (also provided for by the Treaty of Lisbon).

32.Bringing in these extra MEPs before the next European Parliamentary elections needs an amendment to the Treaties, as it temporarily increases the maximum number of MEPs allowed by the Treaties. Section 5 of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 provides that any amendment to the Treaties requires an Act of Parliament to be passed before the UK can ratify the amendment of the Treaties. Part 2 of the Act therefore provides for this approval.

33.Part 2 of the Act also provides for the election of the additional UK MEP provided for under the Transitional Protocol. The Protocol provides for three options for Member States to choose from in determining how to elect their additional MEPs during the current term:

  • by-elections by direct universal suffrage in the Member State concerned, in accordance with the provisions applicable for elections to the European Parliament;

  • by reference to the results of the European Parliamentary elections from 4 to 7 June 2009; or

  • by designation, by the national Parliament of the Member State concerned from among its members, of the requisite number of members, according to the procedure determined by each of those Member States.

34.The Act makes the necessary provision to enable the UK to elect an additional MEP in accordance with the second of these options, by reference to the results of the 2009 European Parliamentary elections. Section 5 of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 already allows for a vacancy arising in an existing seat to be filled without a by-election, and under the European Parliamentary Elections Regulations 2004, by-elections are not normally required. However, in this case as it is a new seat, specific provision is required.

35.In the event that the use of the 2009 results cannot produce a result, the Act provides as an alternative that a by-election would be held to elect the additional MEP. In June 2014, all 73 UK MEPs will then be elected at the scheduled ‘general’ elections to the European Parliament.

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