The presence of the 18 so-called ‘Ghost MEPs
’ due to take up seats in the European Parliament as ‘observers’ will be felt even less around the corridors in Brussels and Strasbourg, as cost-cutting is being cited as the reason for the abrupt change of plan in which the MEPs will instead join as full members once the treaty change has been ratified.
As reported by European Voice
, officials have said that the leaders of the political groups would discuss the matter further in September.
The Parliament had changed its procedural rules last November in order for the additional members, as outlined in the Lisbon Treaty, to sit as observers during the period between the start of the ratification process and entry into force of the treaty change.
As observers, they would not have the right to speak, vote or draft reports, only able to 'observe' Parliament in action in the plenary sessions.
The expanded Parliament will initially have 754 MEPs, but after the 2014 elections to be held in Germany, it will have three fewer MEPs and so the overall total will be 751. Some countries are set to benefit from this change, with Spain gaining four more seats, France, Austria and Sweden two more, and one more each for Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, and lastly the UK.
While this change of plan averts any further negative publicity about MEPs claiming expenses without any legitimacy (such as this one from a predictable source
), it hands a valuable lifeline to countries who have not got a mechanism in place to elect (or choose) their additional MEP(s).