Time to end this travelling circus

Labour MEP Glenis Willmott has called for an end to the “travelling circus” of the European Parliament meeting in two different places.

In a week when Labour MEPs voted against the EU budget, they also took the lead in calling for restrained EU spending, supporting a massive vote of MEPs (a majority of five to one) against continuing the “farce” where MEPs meet in both Brussels and Strasbourg.

“This week’s vote sends a clear signal from a vast majority of MEPs.” said Glenis, who is Leader of the Labour MEPs in the European Parliament.

“The trouble is that it isn’t the MEPs who decide – it’s the governments.”

“The wasteful monthly trip that MEPs make to Strasbourg was agreed by EU governments as part of a protocol attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam which came into force in 1997. It was previously agreed at the Edinburgh summit chaired by Tory John Major as British Prime Minister, and it has been included in Treaties ever since.”

“We are calling on governments to get together and change this. Labour MEPs rejected the European budget this week because it was too much money, and this is no time for the EU to waste money.”

“There’s an expensive farce every month when the staff of the parliament put all their office material into trunks, and it gets sent from Brussels to Strasbourg.”

She added that: “There are three important reasons why we should now stop this.”

“First, governments through the EU are setting up swingeing public sector cuts that are hurting working people everywhere.  Estimates say the cost of the Strasbourg parliament is over €200 million for  the extra seat.”

“Second, governments should be seen to practice what they preach. It is a scandal to cause this totally unnecessary carbon footprint.  The University of York have estimated a carbon footprint of an extra 20,268 tonnes of additional carbon dioxide caused by this move.   The adoption of a single Seat in Brussels would be in line with the Parliament’s plan to reduce its carbon “footprint” by 30% by 2020.”

“Third, we only meet in Strasbourg for historic reasons. Strasbourg represented reconciliation between France and Germany after eighty years of different wars culminating in 1945. We are now the new Enlarged Europe and the significance of the end of Franco-German hostility is now consigned to history text books.”

Glenis Willmott concluded: “Strasbourg is a truly fantastic city and there are endless uses for the revamped European Parliament building. It could perhaps be a centre for European Summits making use of its excellent interpretation facilities, or perhaps a new European University. There are a host of ideas.”

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