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Why does Italy now have three unpaid 'reservist' MEPs?

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Why does Italy now have three unpaid 'reservist' MEPs?
The European Parliament building in Strasbourg. Photo: AFP
13:10 CEST+02:00
At the most recent European elections, Italy elected 73 new members of the European Parliament, plus three who will be on the bench for the next few months - at least.

Why does Italy have reservist MEPs?

Normally it doesn't. In previous years, Italy has elected 73 people to the European Parliament. This year it elected 76, but three of them can't start work yet. And it's the United Kingdom's fault.

Is this Brexit-related?

Afraid so. When the UK announced that it wanted to leave the EU, one of the (many) things that was affected was the composition of the European Parliament. Once it was not a member state, the UK would obviously lose all of its 73 MEPs.

The European Parliament decided that most of these seats would simply be scrapped and the parliament would be streamlined from 751 members down to 705.

However the remaining 27 seats would be redistributed among countries that had been left underrepresented - including Italy, which is in line to get three new members.

Seats in the parliament are allocated based on population numbers, and some countries that have seen demographic changes have been left underrepresented. Italy is one of these along with Denmark (which gets one extra), Estonia (one), Ireland (two), Spain (five), Croatia (one) France (five), the Netherlands (three) Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden (which all get one apiece).

So this comes into effect now?

No. It was supposed to, because the UK was supposed to be gone by March 29th, but for reasons we won't go into here, that has not happened and in fact the UK took part in the European elections on May 26th and sent back 73 MEPs.

This means that the countries that were supposed to be getting extra members have had to create a "reserve list" of MEPs who, like so many of us, are effectively in limbo for now.

Until the UK leaves, these extra MEPs will not take up their seats and will not be paid.

And when will that be?

Only a fool would predict that. The current leaving date deadline is October 31st, but the UK has had two previous deadlines that were extended, so who knows?

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