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Lisbon Treaty/European Parliament composition

Published on February 3, 2010
Method of electing the new MEPs – Reply by Pierre Lellouche, Minister of State responsible for European Affairs, to a written question in the Senate.

Paris, January 28, 2010

Under French presidency, the December 2008 European Council concluded that if the Lisbon Treaty came into force after the June European elections, measures would be taken to permit the implementation of the new fairer composition of the European Parliament.

For the European Union, the Lisbon Treaty’s entry into force on 1 December 2009 completes 15 years of debate on its institutional future and confirms the constant increase in the political, budgetary and legislative powers of the European Parliament, the democratically legitimate forum for the EU’s 500 million citizens. Nevertheless, the Lisbon Treaty’s entry into force doesn’t mean the immediate implementation of the European Council’s conclusions, which will have legal force only when integrated into primary law through a revision of the Treaty. This necessarily requires the convening of an intergovernmental conference which will confirm an additional protocol to the treaty, which each of the 27 Member States must then ratify according to its national constitutional procedures.

When it comes to the democratic representation of European citizens’ elected representatives, the greatest possible transparency is clearly vital. The December 2009 European Council laid down three possibilities for filling the additional posts in the European Parliament for the 12 Member States involved: organizing an ad hoc election, allocating seats with reference to the results of the European elections of June 2009 or having their national parliament appoint, from its midst, the requisite number of members on condition that they have been elected through direct universal suffrage.

In a letter to the President of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister indicated that the French government had opted for the third possibility and that consequently it was up to the National Assembly to organize the allocation of the two additional seats for France by a method whereby one would be from the Majority and one from the Opposition. The Minister of State responsible for European Affairs also makes it clear that between the signature of the additional protocol and its ratification by all Member States, the holders of the additional seats will have the status of “observers”.

With the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty provisions now making national parliaments fully-fledged players in the Community decision-making process, the greater closeness between members of the national Parliament and MEPs can only help reconcile our citizens with the major objectives of the common policies which the government wishes to see make headway./.

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