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'Cold storage' MEPs in limbo will have 'no status' in the European Parliament until the UK leaves the EU

Ireland was allotted an additional two seats as part of the redistribution of seats due to UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

Fianna Fáil's Barry Andrews will have to wait until the UK leaves the EU before he can head off to Europe.
Fianna Fáil's Barry Andrews will have to wait until the UK leaves the EU before he can head off to Europe.
Image: Sam Boal

MEPS ELECTED TO the ‘cold storage’ European Parliament seats will have no status assigned to them and will have no salary, expenses or facilities given to them until the UK leaves the EU, the European Parliament Liaison Office in Dublin has confirmed.

This impacts the fourth candidate elected in Dublin, Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews as well as the last person elected in Ireland South. Three seats are yet to be filled in Ireland South.

Ireland was allotted the additional two seats as part of the redistribution of seats due to the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. 

An additional seat was granted to the Dublin constituency, bringing it to a four seater. Meanwhile, the Ireland South constituency was increased to a five seater. The Midlands North-West constituency remained a four seater.

Ahead of the elections, questions arose about what the MEPs would be entitled to before being allowed take their seats. 

Whether the two elected candidates are entitled to a salary and expenses while their seats are in limbo due to Brexit is a matter “for the European Commission to clarify and decide on”, a government spokesperson said in February.

Questions about what MEPs elected in the “cold storage” would be entitled to arose again after Andrews won the fourth seat on Tuesday. 

Speaking to reporters, Andrews said he wasn’t sure what “interim arrangements” would be made, but said he would “get on with life” until he could take his seat post-Brexit. 

He said 50 MEPs across the EU are in the same position, adding that the situation is “unprecedented”. 

On Tuesday, he said the European Commission would have to make “some kind of decision on what the status of the people in that position” might be until Brexit actually happens. 

Today, the European Parliament Liaison Office in Dublin clarified its position saying in a statement that the “legal basis for the European election this weekend in both Irish and EU law is that 751 MEPs will be returned, including eleven from Ireland”.  

It confirmed that the MEPs in the Brexit ‘cold storage’ seats will have no status, salary, facilities or expenses. 

It added:

On the day the UK leaves the EU, the composition of the European Parliament will change: all UK MEPs will leave and the Parliament will then be composed of 705 MEPs, with some countries taking up additional seats at that point.
In Ireland’s case, the Irish case, the fourth individual deemed elected in the 24 May election in the Dublin constituency, and the fifth in Ireland South, will take up their seats at that point. 
Until that point, there is no legal basis for the European Parliament to attribute any particular status to these two individuals.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy said the department “awaits direction from the Commission” on the matter. 

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