Before the charge

The approach of the European elections has an immense merit : it makes you discover the existence of outgoing elected MEP’s whose common mortals totally ignored the existence … what have they done in Strasbourg for five years, often nobody knows !

Anyone who practices Europe on a daily basis knows how dramatic the loss of French influence has been for a decade.

It would be unfair to say that this is only due to the mediocrity of our MEP’s. In a parliamentary report of February 2016, the European Affairs Committee of the National Assembly essentially pointed four factors to this loss of influence :

  • successive enlargements in the East, which have helped to move France away from the heart of Europe ;
  • France’s difficulties in modernizing its economy and meeting its budgetary commitments, diminishing its credibility on the European scene ;
  • the weakness of France in the European Parliament, accentuated by the result of the 2014 elections, while at the same time the powers of the European Parliament have steadily increased over the course of the treaties we are ;
  • the low readability of the vision that France then had for the Europe of tomorrow.

The election of President Macron has of course changed the course of many of these aspects. And even if the social measures taken to respond to the social emergency that was expressed during the Yellow Vests crisis will weigh on the trajectory of our fiscal recovery, France, becoming again source of proposals for the future of the Europe, has recovered its voice.

The challenge we are now facing is the renewal of the European Parliament.

In France, the European elections of 2019 will take place on May 26, to elect the seventy-nine MEPs (Members of European Parliament) representing France in the European Parliament.

Why seventy-nine?

In the perspective of the Brexit, the current MEPs gave their agreement on June 13, 2018 on a European Council draft decision, based on a proposal of the Parliament (wonderful Treaties …). It will lead to an overall reduction in the number of seats following the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union but will allow some countries to have a greater number of MEPs.

At present, the Parliament has 751 seats, the maximum number allowed by the European Union  Treaties.

According to these new rules, 27 of the 73 seats in the UK will be redistributed to other countries and the remaining 46 seats will be held in reserve in case of EU enlargement. The number of seats to be filled in 2019 will therefore be 705. The project of making possible to elect transnational lists has been abandoned.

The redistribution of seats approved by MEPs guarantees that no Member State will lose seats. Some Member States will gain between 1 and 5 seats to address under-representation as a result of demographic changes. This is the case of France.

For the rest, the decision takes into account the population of the Member States and follows the principle of “degressive proportionality” aimed at correcting for the benefit of small countries the representation which would result from a pure proportionality principle. To put it more simply, the number of people represented by a member of a large country should be higher than the number of people represented by a member of a small country.

This new allocation will be applied after the entry into force of the Brexit, which must take place at the end of March 2019.

France thus enjoys 79 seats, compared to 74 MEPs in the outgoing legislature.

In France, the other change from the 2014 elections is the abolition of regional constituencies and the return to national lists

There remains one last change, which will be in the hands of the voters : to send to Strasbourg elected representatives who are competent and determined to go forward.

Not necessarily the simplest, given the eligible people already announced by the different lists in the running !


Iconography: Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier, The cuirassiers, before the charge, 1805 © Condé Museum, Château de Chantilly


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