Come 26 May there are 705 MEPs. We are used to the same or similar number of MEPs being elected from each of the EU member countries. Yet the changes in the MEPs allocation not only reflect Brexit or EU enlargements. The changes in population also are included in the shifting seats.
Seats in the European Parliament are allocated according to the degressive proportionality rule. It basically means that a smaller (by population) country cannot elect more members than a more populated state.
There are also thresholds: no country can elect more than 96 MEPs and the minimum number is 6. Today the extremes belong to Germany and Malta, respectively.
What will it look like in the future? The non-voting population figures of the 0-14 age group reveal an upcoming demographic revolution among member states. Yes, we all know that Europe relatively to the world is losing out; yet how the Union states compare with one another? Below is a table revealing who has a chance to move up the ranks.
Obviously, the future population shifts also depend on the migration flows. But the table below also indicates the issues relevant for different nations: if the electorate is younger it should be expected to be more prone to youth policies and issues; if the populace is relatively older other issues come into play.
|Youth population (0-14)|
Population data: the World Bank.
With every EP term there should be a new influx of more Irish MEPs. The Swedes, despite going up in the ranks, are among the large group of states of similar size. Interestingly, only in 2019 Sweden catches up with the rest of the 10-million club (21 MEPs each). Also, the crisis-hit nations of Greece and Portugal seem to be paying not only the economic price, but also the demographic one. A new emerging parity is that between the Netherlands and Romania.
And there is the top of the table. France is structurally positioned to close the demographic gap with Germany. Therefore every 5 years there should be an increasing number of the French-elected MEPs.
Poland remains largely flat and unaffected by the demographic changes. Therefore the country will elect its more or less 50 MEPs for the foreseeable future.