Brexit may have fallen off the radar, temporarily, but it is set to change the shape of the new European Parliament in November, as UK seats will be redistributed among the remaining 27 member states if the current deadline is respected. Here are some of the winners and losers.
Barring a last-minute change, the UK is set to leave after 31 October. The number of MEPs will then be reduced from 751 to just 705. Twenty-seven of those axed seats will be doled out to some of the other member states, while the other 46 will be kept aside for possible future enlargement of the EU assembly.
Under the proposed post-Brexit recalibration, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands will get between three and five more seats, while 10 other countries will also get a bumper allocation. Germany, which already has the most MEPs, will stay on 96.
That means that the political make-up will shift in the new Parliament, with the Greens, Socialists and Liberals set to lose out if Brexit goes ahead.
In a UK-less Parliament, the Greens and Socialists will lose six seats each, while the Liberals will haemorrhage eleven MEPs as things stand, according to poll-aggregator Europe Elects.
But the centre-right European People’s Party and the far-right Europe of Free Nations would gain four seats each, one of which would be filled by Geert Wilders’ PVV party. The Dutch extremist was on Friday (31 May) temporarily blocked by Twitter for “hateful behaviour”.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, the biggest single faction within this Parliament with 29 MEPs, will obviously vacate the assembly, although it is currently unaffiliated to a group and discussions are ongoing with the ENF, home to Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s La Renaissance party will actually pull level with Le Pen’s National Rally party on 23 MEPs each, thanks to France’s haul of five new seats.
Macron was widely dismissed as having “lost” the EU election, despite Le Pen’s movement only winning one more seat and securing the same percentage of votes as in 2014.
Italy can count on three extra seats, all of which will be filled by parties from the right: Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Fratelli d’Italia and Lega will all get an extra MEP each.
Forza Italia’s bonus lawmaker will depend on where party leader Berlusconi chooses to take his seat, given that he was elected in four separate constituencies. The race for the Brexit position is between Aldo Patriciello and Fulvio Martusciello.
Ireland is set to get two more seats and Irish media reported on Thursday (30 May) that those so-called “cold-storage MEPs” would not be paid expenses or granted the same perks as normal lawmakers until after Brexit.
A recount is currently underway in the Ireland South constituency for one of the extra seats, after just 327 votes separated fifth and sixth place in the final results. Rechecking the ballots is expected to take a month.
The EU’s newest member, Croatia, will also get an extra seat to bring its total to 12. Social Democrat Romana Jerković is waiting in the wings. It would draw the socialists level on four seats with the ruling HDZ (EPP) party.