Strasbourg is one home too many

Strasbourg EU Parliament

As European Union leaders meet in Brussels on November 22-23 to negotiate the EU’s budget for 2014-20, MEPs will be in Strasbourg. If governments are serious about efficiency and cutting waste–notably within the EU’s own institutions–a single seat for the European Parliament is the place to start. That is what MEPs and the public demand.

Official estimates show that approximately €1.2 billion will be squandered during 2014-20 because EU governments currently compel us by treaty to trek from our working home in Brussels to Strasbourg each month for a four-day session.

In addition, half of our staff are sequestered in Luxembourg. The cost is €180 million and 19,000 tones of carbon dioxide a year. This is inefficient and indefensible. Apart from the financial cost and the environmental damage, the parliament is away from Brussels for 25 per cent of its time and cannot fully exercise its scrutiny, control and co-legislation functions, which are now conferred by treaty. The EU Commission, Council and its new foreign service are all Brussels-based, as are the EU-related diplomats, trade and non-governmental organisations.

On October 23, 75 per cent of MEPs voted to invite EU governments to resolve the issue by next summer. A similar majority of the European Parliament’s personnel and assistants are of the same opinion, according to a poll by its staff magazine. Some 1.27 million Europeans have signed the One Seat petition calling for the parliament to be based only in Brussels.

The European Parliament’s official seat in Strasbourg is a costly anachronism. Against the backdrop of the economic crisis, MEPs have consistently voted for the right to decide when and where we meet – in a single place. The time has come for a constructive response from governments.

Edward McMillan-Scott, Lib Dem, UK, EP Vice-President and Alexander Alvaro, FDP, Germany, EP Vice-President. They are Co-Chairs, Single Seat campaign.

Isabelle Durant, Ecolo, Belgium, EP Vice-President; Vlasak, Obanská demokratická strana, Czech Republic, EP Vice-President; Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, Poland, EP Quaestor; Dan Jorgensen, Socialdemokratiet, Denmark, Vice-Chair, Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety; Ashley Fox, Conservative, UK, Vice-Chair, Constitutional Affairs Committee; Bart Staes, Groen, Belgium, Vice-Chair, Committee on Budgetary Control; Lisek Krzysztof, Platforma Obywatelska, Poland, Vice-Chair, Subcommittee on Security and Defence; Göran Farm, Arbetarepartiet-Socialdemokraterna, Sweden, Budget Committee; Anna-Maria Corazza-Bild, Moderata Samlingspartiet, Sweden, Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection; Mario David, Partido Social Democrata, Portugal, Committee on Foreign Affairs; Lara Comi, Il Popolo della Libertà, Italy, Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee; Ulrike Lunacek, Die Grünen – Die Grüne Alternative, Austria, Committee on Foreign Affairs; Judith Merkies, Partij van de Arbeid, The Netherlands, Committee on Industry, Research and Energy; Diane Dodds, Democratic Unionist Party, UK, Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

The above MEPs are members of the Single Seat campaign steering group.

About the Author

The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.

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