The European Parliament normally meets in Brussels. But 12 times a year it is obliged to hold a full session in the French city of Strasbourg. This is a ridiculous state of affairs, but unfortunately MEPs do not have the power to decide where the Parliament actually meets.
The requirement to meet in Strasbourg is written into a European treaty which former Tory Prime Minister John Major sadly signed up to in 1992. Any attempt to abolish Strasbourg would now require the agreement of all member states – something France has been resisting.
More than one million European citizens have signed an online petition ( www.oneseat.eu ) which calls for scrapping of the Strasbourg Parliament. Why not add your name to the petition?
MEPs were therefore delighted when, over the summer recess, the ceiling of the Strasbourg Parliament collapsed. MEPs were due to have two four-day-long meetings in Strasbourg this September. But, because of the repair work, the meetings have been relocated to take place in Brussels.
By holding all our meetings in Brussels this week, MEPs have clearly demonstrated that there is absolutely no reason to continue holding meetings in Strasbourg. The Parliament in Strasbourg sits empty for 307 days a year costs €200 million per year. The only reason for keeping it open is French national pride. That is certainly not worth €200 million a year.
I will certainly be continuing my campaign against the wasteful commute to Strasbourg. At the moment I’m investigating whether MEPs can use a legal loophole to abolish Strasbourg without having to change the European treaties.
Watch this space for more information.