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It costs European taxpayers approximately 200 million euros a year to move the Parliament between Brussels/Belgium and Strasbourg/France. If you think this is a stupid idea, you could always sign here.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 16th, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC)
That website doesn't seem to be working. I'd like to sign, as I've long thought this commuting parliament was a complete nonsense.

Maybe the French are blocking the website!
May. 16th, 2006 01:40 pm (UTC)
Try from home perhaps? Works OK from this Berlin cybercafe!
May. 16th, 2006 03:36 pm (UTC)
There's an ongoing campaign in Alaska to move the capital from Juneau to Willow (which is a virtually non-existant town about sixty miles north of Anchorage, the largest city). It's an equally stupid idea. This reminds me of it. I signed the petition. :)
May. 16th, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC)
Or just move it permanently to Strasbourg! Holding the councils in Luxembourg is probably more expensive and certainly more irritating. Kirschberg concrete jungle. Shudder.
A lot of people enjoy the Strasbourg jolly. The EP building is far nicer than the Brussels labyrinth and the city is a nice place to be even though the commute (5/6 hours by train, close to 4 by car) is very annoying.
I'm not at all influenced by the fact that taxpayers' money keeps buying me good Alsacien dinners... Go raibh mile agat, a hEireann.
May. 16th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC)
You're literally the first person I've heard making an argument in favour!

(Surely, however, the Luxembourg stuff, though I appreciate it is irritating, is much cheaper - one day at a time rather than a whole week, and even with ten people there for each member state that's still a third of the MEPs alone, never mind assistants and hangers-on.)
May. 17th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)
It's not my argument, to be fair, but I did hear of a senior Fianna Failer making this point! The Strasbourg commute is hell for the people who have to do it regularly but it's not universally hated. It will be interesting to see how many MEPs really stand up for a shift to Brussels (and remember there's still the problem of the admin split off from the rest of the staff in Luxembourg along with an unused plenary chamber.) On one level, the trip out of town is a good opportunity for a lot of deal-making and the absence of numerous lobbyists is probably a relief for some. On another, a change is a political headache. Strasbourg is on the law books and placating the French - rumours of a deal between Merkel and the slippery Sarkozy notwithstanding - would be politically difficult and probably very expensive. A technology institute would not compensate for the city's loss of earnings. And Strasbourg is a UMP stronghold the year before an election. It just won't fly.
This doesn't change the fact that the entire thing is an enormous waste of money. Strasbourg makes a hefty profit out of the EP without counting the rent scandal: from taxi rides, hotels, restaurants and Air France's almost-cartel over the air routes. The Parliament does nicely too - MEPs cash in their first-class air fares and teams of truckers ship documents from city to city. A lot of taxpayers' money could be saved by shaving these excesses without necessarily moving the EP to Brussels full time. But then a lot of taxpayers' money could be saved in a 100 different ways were all the EU institutions so inclined...
May. 17th, 2006 09:41 am (UTC)
Did I get it right, that MEPs actually had a vote on this in the last couple of months, and voted to keep the present nonsense ?

Who were the guilty parties ?

-- jh.
May. 17th, 2006 10:25 am (UTC)
Don't believe that's the case; check with the maintainers of the website.

In any case, the European Parliament doesn't currently have the power to decide its own seat, so a vote one way or the other is a theoretical exercise.
May. 17th, 2006 12:49 pm (UTC)
Surprisingly tricky thing to google for...

There was a symbolic procedural motion, on April 5th, for adjournment of voting on amendments to the proposed 2007 parliamentary calendar (Labour party PR (http://www.eplp.org.uk/newsitem.asp?thetitle=Pull%20out%20of%20Strasbourg%20say%20Labour%20MEPs&thedate=4/5/2006)). But it apparently gained only 150 votes (BBC news (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4952228.stm), quite far down the article); presumably other MEPs were not convinced that such a move would be meaningful.

It seems to be a bit of a "streetcar" event: UKIP got criticism for being in the bar at the time of (presumably) a similar vote in April last year (UKIP watch (http://ukipwatch.org/2005/05/ukip-catch-gravy-train.html)). There is no lack of history of previous attempts by MEPs, going by the petition website (http://www.europafederalisterna.se/oneseat/?view=facts&lang=en).

Josep Borell has been asked to push the issue at the EU leaders' summit in June - though not all MEPs are on board (EU Business (http://www.eubusiness.com/Institutions/060511162750.p4z4x5ri)).

-- jh
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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