“The European Union and the United Kingdom: a new chapter” panel discussion

The European Parliament office in Zagreb has organized a debate on the changes that European institutions and citizens expect after Brexit. Tomislav Sokol (HDZ-EPP), Nj.E. Olive Hempenstall, Ambassador of Ireland to the Republic of Croatia and prof. dr. sc. Iris Goldner Lang from the Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb spoked on what areas could be most problematic in the negotiations on future relations, how to address the border regime on the Irish island as painlessly as possible, what role in the new round of negotiations the European Parliament will play. The audience was initially addressed by Violeta Simeonova Stanicic, Head of the Office of the European Parliament in Zagreb and British MEP Jackie Jones (S&D, UK), who pointed out that millions of UK citizens did not vote for leaving the EU and that communication and close cooperation, where possible, must continue - with an emphasis on Wales, from which it is originally.

The composition of the European Parliament after Brexit

From February 1st, number and distribution of seats in Parliament will be changed due to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The European Parliament will have 705 seats, unlike the previous number of 751, which is the maximum number allowed under EU treaties. Of the 73 places that belonged to the United Kingdom, 27 is rescheduled to other countries, and the remaining 46 will be kept for potential further expansion.

Under the new structure no Member State will lose representatives in the European Parliament. In a few countries will increase the number of their representatives, in accordance with the new relative population of the Member States, while the new distribution is guaranteed and required minimum level of representation of the smallest Member State of the EU. Member States which will increase the number of Members of the European Parliament will officially announce or confirm their names. Their mandate officially starts 1st February 2020th

Who are the new members of the European Parliament?

All 27 deputies who will take office on February 1 elected to the European elections in May 2019. In accordance with the electoral act of 1976, Member States shall inform the European Parliament of the names of the new members in the EP, who take their seats before their mandates can officially begin.

Changes in parliamentary committees and subcommittees

The number of committee members and subcommittees of the European Parliament is changing: the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety gets five new members, the Committee on International Trade gets three, and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy gets six new members. The new composition will take effect immediately after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.

Members' clubs will decide on the composition of each committee and subcommittee after the new members take their seats. In accordance with the Rules of Procedure (Article 209), their composition should as far as possible reflect the composition of Parliament as a whole. You can find out more here. Some committees and subcommittees will also need to elect new presidents, vice presidents and coordinators, as a number of UK MPs will leave those seats on 31 January 2020 (two presidents and three vice presidents).

Future relationship negotiations

With the entry into force of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, starting a new chapter focused on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom. Although the United Kingdom is now a country that is not a member of the EU, the challenges that face both sides are still common and both sides can benefit from collaboration. Issues that will be discussed and which will be part of the agreement in the near future include it on the fight against climate change, terrorist threats or cooperation in research and common defense structure. Conditions and principles of trade between the EU and the United Kingdom will be the central point of negotiations.

The transitional period beginning on 1 February will expire at the end of December 2020. Any agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom will need to be fully concluded before it enters into force on 1 January 2021. The transitional period may be extended once by one to two but the decision must be taken by the EU-UK Joint Committee before 1 July.

The European Parliament will have to approve any future relations agreement. If such an agreement concerns competences shared by the EU with the Member States, national parliaments will need to ratify it.

The EP will closely monitor the work of EU negotiator Michel Barnier and will continue to influence the negotiations through resolutions. The Parliament Coordination Group for the United Kingdom, led by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman David McAllister (EPP, DE), will liaise with the EU Working Group on Relations with the United Kingdom and coordinate with all relevant committees.

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