After one thousand three hundred and eighteen days of heated debate, the United Kingdom should finally leave the European Union (EU) on January 31. Among the innumerable practical and symbolic consequences of this Brexit, there is one which is of particular interest to Brussels: the reallocation of seats in the European Parliament.
On January 31, the 73 British MEPs elected in May 2019 in an unexpected and surreal election in the midst of the Brexit psychodrama will have to pack up, after seven months in office. But not all of their seats in the European Parliament will remain vacant. Twenty-seven will be reassigned to MEPs of other nationalities, elected in spring 2019 but who were not sitting while waiting for Brexit. These so-called elected officials 'Frozen', who inherited the nickname from "Picard deputies", will enter the hemicycle in February.
Why only 27 entrants when 73 seats will be vacated? Because of the complex rules for the distribution of seats between European countries, which must respect demographic balances and provide for a "reserve" in the event of the entry of new countries, without ever exceeding the ceiling of 751 deputies.
France will be the first beneficiary of this "transfer window", with five new elected officials, like Spain. These have already been appointed, based on the scores obtained in the May 2019 elections. Two are from La République en Marche, and the other three from the National Rally, Europe Ecologie-Les Verts and the Socialist Party.
The right and the far right boosted
The departure of the 73 British deputies will also slightly change the political balance of the European Parliament. Indeed, the different groups (liberals, socialists, environmentalists, sovereignists, etc.) will each lose their British elected representatives, without necessarily recovering as many "Picard deputies" to boost their rank.
Brexit will not, however, have a great practical consequence on the functioning of the European institutions, where all the positions of responsibility are already allocated:
- In Parliament, the right-wing coalition, the Social Democrats and the Liberals will retain a large majority; despite its progress, the far right will remain excluded from the chairmanships of parliamentary committees thanks to the "cordon cordon" set up in summer 2019 by moderate parties.
- Nothing will change at the European Commission, because the British had already given up on appointing a representative, in anticipation of their departure.