Dáil Éireann - Volume 419 - 12 May, 1992

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - European Elections.

[926] 7. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment if he will outline the position in relation to the next election to the European Parliament with particular reference to the promised revision of Euro-constituency boundaries and the present ratio of population to seats in each of the four Euro-constituencies; and if he will further outline, (1) the likely timescale for decisions, (2) the legislation which may be required and (3) the final date by which any such legislation will be passed having regard to the need for adequate time to prepare for the elections.

Mr. Smith: A review of the constituencies for the election of representatives to the European Parliament will be carried out in advance of the next elections. The review will take account of the 1991 census of population and will be completed in time to have any changes implemented well in advance of the 1994 elections. Such changes would require amendment of the Second Schedule to the European Assembly Elections Act, 1977.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Is the Minister aware of the provision in the Maastricht Treaty for a review of the number of seats in the European Parliament to make provision for enlargement? Has the Minister had any intimation as to the number of seats which will be allocated to the Republic of Ireland in the next European Parliament?

Mr. Smith: I have no such information. The question of an enlargement is primarily a matter for the Department of Foreign Affairs. It is something we will discuss post-Maastricht. My concern would be for the boundary commission and the assessment of the census of population. When the detailed figures are available I will make whatever changes are necessary.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Bearing in mind that the detailed census results should be [927] available by the end of this year, is it the Minister's intention to have the review of the Euro constituencies carried out in the first half of next year in order to allow one full year to prepare for the European elections in June 1994?

Mr. Smith: When all the figures are available I will proceed immediately to establish the commission and get these matters out of the way.