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Date set for downsized European Parliament

March 20, 2018

European affairs ministers have agreed on May 26 for the next European Parliament elections, bringing the date forward two weeks. With the exit of Britain from the bloc, the assembly is to shrink.

The European parliament in Strasbourg
Image: picture-alliance/Wiktor Dabkowski

Most elections for the next term of the European Parliament are to take place on May 26, 2019, European affairs ministers agreed on Tuesday.

The decision reduces the amount of leeway the UK might have to temporarily remain in the bloc before the elections take place. The scheduled date for Britain's departure from the EU is March 29, and Britain will not be represented in the next parliament.

Read more: UK leaders seek friends in a time of need

Britain currently has 73 seats in the assembly, which sits in both Strasbourg and Brussels. Of those, 27 will be distributed among other EU countries while 46 will disappear altogether.

Concern over anti-EU sentiment

The May 26 date falls on a Sunday, the traditional day of voting for most countries in the bloc. However, several countries vote on other days of the week. Some may take place as early as May 23.

Read more: EU Youth Parliament: Being heard for the first time

European political groups are gearing up for the EU elections already, with strong concern among mainstream parties that turnout may remain low and support will grow for euroskeptic parties.

Parliamentary groups also want the top candidate of the winning parliamentary group, rather than national leaders, to be appointed to head the European Commission.

Current European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is due to step down in November next year.

rc/rt (Reuters, dpa)

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