MEPs’ Challenge the Strasbourg Travelling Circus

Many of you will recall the number of times I have raged on this blog about the European Parliament’s wasteful practice of decamping and moving to Strasbourg for four days every month.

Well, we now have the tiniest amount of progress. Yesterday MEPs voted for a procedural amendment, which it is hoped will reopen the debate about changing the rules that currently require the European Parliament to meet in Strasbourg, even though most of its work is done in Brussels.

Under a 1992 agreement between European leaders at the time, brokered by former Tory Prime Minister John Major, the European Parliament is obliged to meet for 12 sessions every year in Strasbourg.

However, with most of the EU institutions based in Brussels, the majority of mine and all my MEP colleagues’ duties are undertaken in the Belgian capital.  Very many of us would rather that all our work is done there.

However, because the Strasbourg decision is locked into a treaty, MEPs are unable to change it.

Today we voted on the calendar of meetings for 2012, and elected to hold two separate sessions in a single week. This change alone will save millions of euros as thousands of journeys will not need to be taken by MEPs and officials.

It is also hoped that today’s decision will add pressure on European governments to revisit the whole issue of holding meetings of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

While not earth shattering, yesterday’s vote was a small victory for common sense, but much more importantly it sends a clear signal to European leaders that MEPs themselves do not back the current ridiculous travelling circus of going to Strasbourg.

The European Parliament’s trips to Strasbourg are costly, wasteful and utterly incomprehensible to anyone outside the EU bubble.

We still have a long way to go, but MEPs have made it clear to government ministers that the Strasbourg status quo is expensive, disruptive and completely ridiculous.

1 Comment

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One response to “MEPs’ Challenge the Strasbourg Travelling Circus

  1. Daniel Oxley

    Please keep raging Mary, this matter does merit your attention. You say that to anyone outside the EU bubble this waste is incomprehensible in its cost and waste. Speaking from outside the EU bubble myself, I can confirm that this is completely correct.

    It is also worth pointing out that the shuttling to and fro has an environmental impact. According to the Green Party it creates, every year 20,268 tonnes of carbon emissions.

    This is such an own goal by the EU. For as long as the shuttle continues, EUsceptics like me will continue to challenge the right of the Federal Institutions to make rulings about the environment when it is polluting the planet and wasting our natural resources by its own activities. We will point to it as yet another example of EU’s ‘do as I as I say not as I do’ mentality.

    Treaties are not written in stone and in the UK at least, the there is a guiding principle that no government shall bind its successor. The EU Parliament should flex its puny muscles and hold the EU Government to account, otherwise we EUsceptics will continue to call it a puppet parliament and we will rant on and on about the cost of supporting a parliament which does not have any significant powers.

    It is absurd that France has such power in the EU. It is not as though it pays for any thing, it is a net recipient of EU funding.

    Perhaps the MEPs should just refuse to make the journeys and turn up for work in the Brussels building instead. There are plenty of Marxists in the Parliament, I am sure they would know how to organise a strike.