Senior Liberal Democrat MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament, Edward McMillan-Scott is leading the campaign, alongside fellow Vice-President Alexander Alvaro, a German Liberal, to end the ‘travelling circus’ of MEPs moving 12 times a year, 400km from Parliament’s home in Brussels to its second home in Strasbourg.
As residents across the country are tightening their financial belts, Edward McMillan-Scott is demanding that the European Parliament does the same.
“In these times of economic austerity,” Mr McMillan-Scott commented, “two parliaments is too much. I am also in favour of freezing all expenditure between now and the next European election in 2014 – and that includes MEP’s pay and expenses.”
Currently all 736 MEPs and their staff are forced to box-up documents and equipment and ship everything for four days, every month, toStrasbourgfor a voting session. All of this comes at great expense to the tax payer and has a high cost in CO2 emissions to the environment.
However, the campaign for a Single Seat has been boosted by comments from the new President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz where he declared in a newspaper interview that he was in favour of a Single Seat (English translation below), and by a resolution on the EU’s future budget in June 2011, when an Absolute Majority of MEPs (373 – 285) voted in favour of a Single Seat to economise.
Mr McMillan-Scott and Mr Alvaro, both Co-Chairmen of Single Seat, are to frame an EU-wide public petition against this controversial ‘travelling circus’.
The Single Seat campaign is preparing a European Citizens’ Initiative, a new procedure with effect from April this year, which ensures an official response from the European Commission if more than one million EU citizens sign up.
Mr McMillan-Scott commented;
“Pollution, cost, inefficiency and remoteness of this travelling circus are indefensible. Europe’s public today cannot be ignored against a backdrop of economic crisis and pressing environmental concerns.
“We must end this travelling circus.”
Note to the editors:
Below is an excerpt from a transcript in English of President Schulz’s comments in the Luxemburger Wort, published on February 23, 2012:
Where do you stand on the seat debate?
For me there is no debate about Luxembourg being home to the general secretariat and translation. The two meeting places are indeed highly debated issues which have followed me since the 80s, since I am a a member of the EP.
How do you mean, highly debated?
The EP must respect the treaties. In the EU treaties the seat issue is quite clear: The official seat of the EP isStrasbourg. The reality, that we meet in various places, causes debate.
And in terms of judicial processes?
Currently we have in the ECJ a case fromFranceand the grand duchy against a decision of the EP to not meet twice in Autumn but to condense these two weeks into one. In the eyes ofFranceandLuxembourgthis is a breach of the treaties.
What’s your position?
I am awaiting the result of the court case because I think a lot of further steps hang on this result. Until then the two-seat arrangement as set out in the treaty remains valid. Whoever wants to change it needs a treaty change. If this were to come one would have to decide for one seat. I am myself for one seat. WhetherStrasbourgorBrussels, one will see at the end. But one seat would be better.