European Parliament votes to reduce seats after Brexit
STRASBOURG, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- The European Parliament voted Wednesday to reduce its number of seats and redistribute some to under-represented countries as part of its post-Brexit restructuring.
After Britain leaves the European Union (EU) in 2019, its 73 seats would be redistributed. The house will place 46 of the British seats in reserve.
The reserved seats could be allocated to new members of the EU. On Tuesday, the European Commission announced an enlargement strategy for the Western Balkans, setting a 2025 target for Serbia and Montenegro to become members.
Or the seats could be left empty to keep the 751-seat European Parliament smaller, at 705.
Britain's remaining 27 seats would be redistributed among 14 under-represented EU member states.
France and Spain would be the biggest beneficiaries, both receiving an additional five seats in the house. Italy and the Netherlands would each receive three additional ones.
However, the plan would be feasible only if Britain leaves the EU, an indication that a significant number of European Parliament members are still hoping that the Brexit process can be halted.
"This vote is an important step forward for European democracy," Pedro Silva Pereira, co-rapporteur for the initiative, said. "This will make the European Parliament a fairer reflection of the citizens it represents."
The proposal will now be sent to the European Council, where it has to be approved unanimously by European heads of state and government. Then it will be sent back to the European Parliament for a simple approval.