Currently as a EU member state the UK has 73 Members of the European Parliament. There is currently some debate about what should be done with the 73 seats after Brexit.
We would like to make a modest proposal which we hope the EU will find interesting. Why not allocate ten of the soon-to-be vacated seats to non-EU states and territories?
We can already imagine people like Jean-Claude Piris being shocked at the legal impossibilities of non-EU representatives in the European Parliament; but before you dismiss the idea, let us outline it.
Our proposal is this – there are several non-EU states and territories that either border or are inexorably tied to the EU – we are thinking of course of the UK, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Vatican City, Monaco, Jersey, Ukraine, Guernsey, Gibraltar [not a complete list].
It is in the wider European interest to have these diverse nations, territories, polities and economies interact with the EU to discuss common concerns, problems and opportunities.
Ten of the 73 MEP seats could be allocated to non-EU partners; possibly two from the UK (representing each of the largest UK political parties) with one each for Norway, Switzerland, Iceland et al, and perhaps one representing several microstates with a system of rotation so each microstate gets a turn sending their representative to the EP.
These WEP’s (Wider European Parliamentarians) would either be elected by popular vote or appointed (for 5 year terms) according to the choice of each state (let us not forget that the first European Parliament members were directly appointed by the governments of member states, not directly elected).
WEPs would be able to scrutinize new legislation, contribute to most debates and controversially even; vote – but crucially, not on EU-only issues.
They would only be able to vote in either non-binding votes or on issues that could have a direct effect on wider Europe.
So for example, the WEPs would have no effect on the EU budget, ECB, wider Eurozone issues or significant changes to EU treaties but they would be able to vote on things like EEA rules and proposals that would have a direct affect on their nations and territories.
Note: There could be certain issues which it could be argued either way whether they came under the remit of WEPs or not – in these cases their votes would be recorded anyway (as an expression of the feelings of the non-EU territories) but their ultimate validity would be discussed and agreed by the President of the Parliament and the chair of the WEP group.
Obviously, these WEPs would be paid for not by the EU; but from a combined budget from the participating states.
They would receive similar remuneration and benefits as present MEPs do, but they would be reminded that since they represent their whole nations they are expected to reject partisan politics and point scoring. Their work should be constructive, positive and conducive to wider European friendship, peace and unity.
There will be many people who will say this is at best just blue sky thinking and at worst; unrealistic tripe. But let us look at this practically:
- the EU will need to rewrite its treaties in any event (they need to remove reference to the UK as a member state).
- The European continent is facing many challenges – environmental issues, migratory flows, Russian belligerence, international crime and terrorism for example,
- This proposal would allow us to face the continent’s future as a larger ‘European Family’ – EU, EEA, EFTA and non-aligned European states, territories and microstates.
- This proposal would be in the spirit of the EU’s Article 8: