The Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament approved on Tuesday a report proposing a reform system on the distribution of seats for MEPs between the 27 member states after the 2009 European elections.

The total number of seats, according to the report, would be cut from the current 785, an interim figure established to last until 2009, to 750. That would mean fewer MEPs for 17 out of the 27 member states, including Romania, starting with 2009.

The report by Romanian Socialist MEP Adrian Severin and French conservative Alain Lamassoure was approved with 17 committee votes in, five against and three abstentions.

According to the document, a new ceiling is established for national delegations, down from 99 to 96. Severin said such caps were needed for a less costly and more efficient European Parliament.

The proposals had been challenged by a series of countries including Italy and Ireland which claimed their position was affected as their number of seats remained mostly unchanged while those of others increased.

Severin himself was attacked by a fellow Romanian MEP who claimed he did not represent Romania's interests well as the number of seats Romania would receive would be lower than those the country has for now.