‘Use UK MEP seats for revamp of Euro elections’

At present MEPs all represent a particular region, such as south-east or north-west France

President Emmanuel Macron wants to use Britain’s empty 73 MEP seats as part of a revamp of the Euro election system from 2019.

He says the UK’s departure – leaving around 10% of seats empty – is ‘a unique opportunity’ to create so-called ‘transnational’ (or ‘pan-european’) election lists, an idea that supporters think would boost enthusiasm for Europe and discourage narrow nationalism.

The plan would see EU citizens cast two votes: one to elect an MEP from a party list for the region where they live (as now) and one from a pan-EU one.

Candidates on the latter, who would be drawn from the European political parties, would campaign for what they think is best for Europe as a whole, as opposed to a certain region such as south-east or north-west France.

Some MEPs who back an ‘associate EU citizen’ status for Britons who want to retain EU links after Brexit have also said transnational lists would be an ideal way of enabling Britons to continue to vote once there are no British MEPs.

The idea has been proposed from time to time, but never acted on, however Mr Macron’s support and the fact that Brexit would leave empty seats, has brought it back to the fore again. It is expected to be raised during next week’s Strasbourg session of the EU parliament (at which a new resolution on expat rights after Brexit is also expected to be discussed).

The European parliament’s chief Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt is one of the main supporters of the idea, which is backed by the ALDE group of liberals and democrats in the parliament which he heads.

He said in a Facebook post: “A fantastic advance for European democracy, that I’ve been calling for for years, is now officially supported by France… [It is] an indispensable step on the road to building a pan-European democracy.”

So far, other than this proposal, it is not clear what would be done with the UK’s seats.

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