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In order dispel the incorrect impression given in a number of articles in the foreign and local press the EP Office said in a statement on Wednesday that it would like to clarify the issue of the status of those persons elected to fill the extra seats in the European Parliament provided for in the Lisbon Treaty. Malta decided that the person who comes closest to being elected will take up the sixth seat. In the Elections of June 6th Mr. Joseph Cuschieri from the Labour Party obtained that position.

In December 2008 the European Council declared that should the Lisbon Treaty be ratified the twelve relevant countries should receive the extra MEPs allotted to them in the Lisbon Treaty not at the next Elections in 2014 but during the 2009-2014 legislature, and if possible in 2010.

The Lisbon Treaty will only enter into force if it is ratified by Ireland following a referendum in the autumn (probably in October) and is signed by the Presidents of Poland and the Czech Republic whose Parliaments have already ratified the Treaty.

In May 2009, the European Parliament approved a non-legislative resolution (Dehaene Report) calling on EU Member States “to allow the pre-election in June 2009 of the 18 supplementary MEPs, so that they can sit in Parliament from the date that the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force”.

At the same time a Report of the European Parliament Constitutional Affairs Committee proposing to change its Rules of Procedure to grant observer status to these 18 supplementary MEPs is awaiting approval by the European Parliament Plenary. This is likely to be adopted only after ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is completed. If this report is approved by the EP Plenary as it stands Mr. Cuschieri will start to enjoy observership status the day after the entry into force of the Treaty, probably in early 2010.

As an observer Mr. Cuschieri will have the right to attend meetings of committees and political groups without the right to vote or stand for positions within the EP. His treatment “shall be assimilated to that of a Member of (the European) Parliament as regards the use of Parliament’s facilities and the reimbursement of expenses incurred in (his) activities as an observer”. The Bureau of the Parliament will decide which allowances will be offered and whether or not observers will receive a salary.

In the meantime a Protocol will be prepared allowing for observers to take their seats as full MEPs. This Protocol is likely to be attached to the three special arrangements being requested by Ireland and/or the Accession Treaty of Croatia. The Protocol will need to be ratified by all member states in a process that is unlikely to be concluded before late 2010.

At this point Mr. Cuschieri would be able to take his place as Malta’s sixth fully fledged Member of the European Parliament with the right to vote.

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