Big step forward for campaign to end Strasbourg circus

14-Oct-2013 @ 18:0

Ashley Fox Ashley Fox

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Campaigning MEP Ashley Fox today hailed a key vote in theEuropean Parliament as a major boost in his drive to end the notoriousStrasbourg "travelling circus".

The parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee todayvoted by 22 to 4 to adopt a report, which is being hailed as apotentially-historic step towards stopping the wasteful two-seat system.

Mr Fox, Conservative MEP for the South West of Englandand Gibraltar, has jointly authored the hard-hitting reportsetting out a roadmap for reform.

He said: "This is the first time the parliament hasformally set out its intention to pursue a policy of treaty change to end thiscrazy state of affairs. I am extremely encouraged by the support ourstrategy has attracted. This plants a flag in the ground for the cause ofreform."

His report, drafted jointly with German Green MEP GeraldHafner, focuses on the economic and environmental costs of the dual-seatsystem, as well as the weight of public sentiment which is deeply opposed. Thepresent arrangement is simply unsustainable, it argues, and MEPs should beallowed to decide for themselves where the parliament sits.

Most of the European Parliament's work is done at itshuge complex of offices and debating chambers in Brussels, but once a month 766MEPs, 3,000 staff and 25 trucks carrying documents and equipment all decamp toStrasbourg in France to sit there for three days.

A report by the Parliament Secretary General last weekput the annual cost at €102 million, but Conservative MEPs say"invisible" costs such as amortisation of buildings, and money wastedon unused floor space brings the true cost to €156m, or £131m. It alsoneedlessly pumps 20,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

Mr Fox said: "Unless something changes this is setto cost taxpayers something approaching a billion pounds over the course of theEU's next seven-year budget programme. Think what else the money could buy interms of genuine investment to make Europe more competitive and moreprosperous.

"Think how foolish the parliament looks when itallows this while lecturing its citizens about climate change. How can it beremotely sensible in such challenging times?

"Today we have started start to roll back thisnonsense. From here we take the debate to the Presidents and Premiers in theEuropean Council to help us win the treaty change we need."

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