The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU on January 31, 2020 will signal a series of changes in the way the Parliament is set up.
This background note gives a brief overview of imminent changes that will take place once the Withdrawal Agreement comes into effect on February 1, 2020.
Parliament’s composition after Brexit
As a non-EU country, the UK will no longer be represented at EU level, so Parliament will be composed of 705 seats instead of 751. Of the 73 UK seats in the European Parliament, 27 will be redistributed to member states and the remaining 46 will be held in reserve for future EU enlargements.
Under the new set-up, no member state will lose any MEPs. A few countries will see an increase in their number of representatives, in line with the new relative population sizes of member states, while the new distribution also ensures a minimum level of representation for the smallest EU countries. Member states that will see an increase in the number of MEPs are expected to announce or confirm their names to the Parliament. Their term will officially start on February 1, 2020.
Who are the new MEPs?
All 27 MEPs that will take up office on February 1, 2020 were elected at the May 2019 European Elections. In line with the 1976 electoral act, member states have to notify the European Parliament of the names of the new MEPs taking up their seats before their mandates can officially start.
Depending on national rules, some names have already been confirmed , while others are still pending.
Changes to parliamentary committees and subcommittees
The number of members sitting in the European Parliament’s committees and subcommittees changes as shown below. The new composition will become effective immediately after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
|AGRI||Agriculture and Rural Development||48|
|CULT||Culture and Education||31|
|ECON||Economic and Monetary Affairs||60|
|EMPL||Employment and Social Affairs||55|
|ENVI||Environment, Public Health and Food Safety||81 (+5)|
|IMCO||Internal Market and Consumer Protection||45|
|INTA||International Trade||43 (+2)|
|ITRE||Industry, Research and Energy||78 (+6)|
|LIBE||Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs||68|
|TRAN||Transport and Tourism||49|
|FEMM||Women’s Rights and Gender Equality||35|
|DROI||Human Rights (Subcommittee)||30|
|SEDE||Security and Defence (Subcommittee)||30|
Parliament’s political groups will decide on the membership of each committee and subcommittee after the new MEPs take their seats. According to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure (Rule 209), their composition should as far as possible reflect that of Parliament as a whole.
Some committees and subcommittees will also need to elect new chairs, vice-chairs and coordinators, since a number of UK MEPs will be leaving these posts on January 31, 2020.
The Chairs and Vice-Chairs that will have to be replaced are:
Chris DAVIES (RE, UK), Chair, Fisheries
Lucy NETHSINGHA (RE, UK), Chair, Legal Affairs
Seb DANCE (S&D, UK), Vice-Chair, Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
Julie WARD (S&D, UK), Vice-Chair, Culture and Education
Irina VON WIESE (RE, UK), Vice-Chair, Human Rights Subcommittee
The Coordinators that will have to be replaced are:
Shaffaq MOHAMMED (Renew, UK), Deputy Coordinator, Culture and Education
Jude KIRTON-DARLING (S&D, UK), Coordinator, Petitions
Irina VON WIESE (Renew, UK), Coordinator, Human Rights Subcommittee
Geoffrey VAN ORDEN (ECR, UK), Coordinator, Security and Defence Subcommittee
Changes to interparliamentary delegations
Interparliamentary delegations will also be affected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The Chairs and Vice-Chairs that will have to be replaced are:
Catherine BEARDER (RE, UK), 1st Vice-Chair, Political Committee, ACP-EU
Judith BUNTING (RE, UK), Vice-Chair, Korean Peninsula
Richard CORBETT (S&D, UK) Vice-Chair, Afghanistan
Dinesh DHAMIJA (RE, UK), Chair, India
Neena GILL (S&D, UK), Chair, Japan; 12th Vice-Chair, ACP-EU
Martin HORWOOD (RE, UK), 1st Vice-Chair, Iran
John HOWARTH (S&D, UK), 1st Vice-Chair, South Asia
Jackie JONES (S&D, UK), 1st Vice Chair, United States
Nosheena MOBARIK (ECR, UK), Chair, South Asia
Rory PALMER (S&D, UK), 2nd Vice-Chair, Australia/New Zealand
Molly SCOTT CATO (Greens, UK), 2nd Vice-Chair, Mercosur; 1st Vice-Chair, Development/Energy Committee, Eurolat
Caroline VOADEN (RE, UK), 1st Vice-Chair, Arab Peninsula
Future relationship negotiations
With the withdrawal of the UK now effective, a new chapter of negotiations begins, centered on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. Even though the UK is now a non-EU country, the challenges that both sides are facing remain common and both sides have much to gain from working together.
Issues to be discussed and which will form part of an agreement in the near future range from the fight against climate change to terrorism threats, and from cooperation in research to shared defence structures. Trade conditions and principles between the EU and the UK will be a major point in the negotiations.
The transition period starting on February 1 is set to expire at the end of December 2020. Any agreement on the future EU-UK relationship will have to be fully concluded before that point if it is to come into force on January 1, 2021. The transition period can be extended once for one to two years, but the decision to do so must be taken by the EU-UK Joint Committee before July 1.
Parliament will have to approve any future relationship agreement. If such an agreement refers to competences that the EU shares with member states, then national parliaments will also need to ratify it.
The EP will follow closely the work of the EU negotiator Michel Barnier and continue to influence the negotiations through resolutions. Parliament’s UK coordination group, led by Foreign Affairs Committee Chair David McAllister (EPP, DE), will liaise with the EU Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom and coordinate with all competent committees.