Brussels - The European Parliament should shrink from 751 to 705 elected members following Brexit, with seats to be put aside for future pan-European electoral lists, lawmakers proposed on Tuesday.
British EU lawmakers hold 73 seats in the EU legislature. The European Union must decide what to do with them after Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019, two months before the next round of European elections.
27 seats should be shared
Of the 73 seats, 27 should be shared out among under-represented EU member states, including France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland, lawmakers in the Constitutional Affairs committee agreed.
The remaining 46 seats should be set aside, in part for any countries that join the EU in coming years, but also in case of a decision to introduce pan-European lists, the committee said.
Efforts to change the system
At present, EU citizens can only vote for candidates running in their own country, but there are efforts under way to change the system so that some candidates could stand on an EU-wide platform. The move would require the unanimous agreement of EU governments.
Introducing such a transnational constituency "would strengthen the sense of EU citizenship and the European character of elections," lawmakers said in a statement.
The full European Parliament is due to vote on the proposal at its next plenary session in February. Member states must then unanimously approve the changes.