Axing the Strasbourg Circus
For years now, Conservative MEPs have been using every possible device to try and bring an end to the wasteful Strasbourg travelling circus. The European Parliament is required by treaty to hold 12 sessions a year in a second seat in Strasbourg.
Today (15 January) they mounted a protest after their latest bid to cut just a small part of the waste was ruled ‘out of order’.
A Conservative amendment to reduce all 12 sessions of the Parliament in Strasbourg next year from four days to three was declared inadmissible by the Parliament's President, German Socialist Martin Schulz.
If approved the amendment to proposals for the Parliament's 2015 calendar would have saved Europe's taxpayers millions of pounds , mainly in terms of the expense of officials and buildings, and been another step on the road to axing Strasbourg altogether.
Most of the European Parliament's work is done at its complex of offices and debating chambers in Brussels, but once a month 3,000 bureaucrats and 25 trucks carrying documents and equipment all decamp to Strasbourg in France and MEPs struggle to get there to sit from Monday afternoon to Thursday.
A report by the Parliament Secretary General has put the annual cost at €102 million, but Conservative MEPs say "invisibles" such as the ongoing costs of the buildings and money wasted on unused floor space make the true cost much higher. The shuttling back and forth needlessly pumps 20,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.
Local Conservative MEP Geoffrey Van Orden, who has been active in the campaign to scrap Strasbourg for many years, commented:
“The Strasbourg parliament buildings are a monument to waste and excess. Through Conservative efforts we now have a majority of MEPs that would vote against Strasbourg. Regrettably it’s not our decision – we are legally bound to go there and it will take a unanimous decision of 28 governments to change the situation.
“The pressure for change that we bring to bear is vital – and I feel sure that scrapping Strasbourg will feature on David Cameron’s growing list of changes that he will seek to bring about in the way the EU is run”.