Italy has been in a heated battle to keep its seats in the European Assembly. The European Parliament has approved a proposal introduced in 2004 to redistribute seats in the assembly, reducing the number to 750 from the current 785. If the amendment goes through at the summit meeting scheduled on October 18 and 19 in Lisbon, Italy’s current 78 seats will drop to 72, and its power in the EU, with respect to France and Britain, will diminish.
Prodi has fiercely objected to the proposed cuts in the EU assembly on the grounds of the criteria used for determining the number of seats each member should have. ‘For us it is not acceptable to choose a method which arbitrarily decides the distribution [of seats] on the basis of residency as opposed to citizenship’, he said. In this way, France and Britain would lose fewer seats because they have larger immigrant populations than does Italy.
Prodi also contends that the EU’s new treaty explicitly states that the parliament represents Europe’s citizens, not its residents. The premier added that the concept of European citizenship needed to be better defined, as well as a new method for allocating seats that would be ‘satisfactory to all’.