Europe

Guide to the European Parliament: Enlargement

Before the big enlargement on 1 May 2004 the parliament had 626 seats. The parliament elected in June 2004 had 732. With the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in January 2007 it grew to 785.

As MEPs from new member states took their seats, most of the older member states lost a few MEPs.

Under the Nice Treaty the number of MEPs was cut to 736 in the June 2009 election. But the Lisbon Treaty sets the total permanently at 751 beyond 2014.

The maximum number of MEPs per country now is 99 (Germany) and the minimum six (Cyprus, Estonia, Luxembourg and Malta). Lisbon envisages that the maximum will be 96, the minimum six.

The UK and Italy have 73 MEPs each, France has 74.

Enlargement puts huge new burdens on the parliament's translation service, which must now provide simultaneous translation of all debates into 24 languages.

This amounts to 552 possible language combinations - Finnish-Czech, German-Portuguese, English-Maltese and so on. Now more translations take place through a third language, such as English or French.

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