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Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
New MEP seating plan irks Italy
European parliament
Seat allocations are intended to reflect population sizes
The European Parliament has voted to change the distribution of seats in the next legislature despite opposition from Italy.

Under the new rules, the parliament will have 750 instead of the current 785 seats. National quotas will range from six to 96 seats.

Italy's share drops from 78 to 72 under the plan, due to take effect in 2009.

The plan still has to be approved by leaders of the 27 EU nations when they meet in Lisbon next week.

Members - MEPs - elected every five years by EU citizens
Votes on and oversees implementation of EU budget
Considers Commission proposals on legislation
Works with Council on legislative decisions

The redistribution was voted through on Thursday with 378 MEPs in favour, 154 against and 109 abstentions.

The allocations are calculated to mirror the populations of EU countries.

Italy would lose the parity of seats it traditionally held with Britain and France, whose populations are bigger.

The redistribution is intended to accompany approval of the Reform Treaty, which replaces the ill-fated EU Constitution.

Before the vote, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said "it might be a good idea to look at numbers of MEPs after ratification of the treaty".

Maltese MEPs Simon Busuttil and David Casa, quoted by the news website, said Mr Prodi had "got his facts wrong", because the seat redistribution was already envisaged in the old constitution and the new treaty, which he had supported.

The plan revises the allocations envisaged by the 2000 Nice Treaty and would give the UK 73 seats instead of the current 78 and France 74 instead of 78.

Germany's share would drop from 99 to 96, while Spain would keep its current 54 seats.

Romanian MEP Adrian Severin, a co-architect of the revised seating plan, said the proposals would mean "no more artificial groupings".

"They are more representative of demographic realities and will mean more solidarity between big and small," he said.

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