Landmark vote due on one-seat campaign

18-Nov-2013 @ 18:0

Ashley Fox Ashley Fox

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

The European Parliament is set to make a landmark votethis week, seen as a major step towards scrapping the notorious StrasbourgTravelling Circus.

Following a debate tomorrow (Tuesday) a plenary sessionof the parliament will vote on Wednesday on a report setting out a roadmap forreform, jointly authored by South West Conservative MEP Ashley Fox.

Mr Fox, a leading campaigner against the wastefulness ofthe dual-seat system, said: "This is potentially an historic vote. If theyback my report, MEPs will be for the first time demanding the right to decidewhere they sit. What's more they will be telling national governments to changethe relevant Treaties to allow this to happen

"It won't mean the end of the shameful monthlyritual of trekking to Strasbourg, but it may mean the beginning of theend."

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 month766MEPs, 3,000 staff and 25 trucks carrying documents and equipment all decampto Strasbourg in France to sit there for three days.

A report by the Parliament Secretary General lastweek put the annual cost at €102 million, but Conservative MEPs say"invisible" costs such as the ongoing costs of the buildings, andmoney wasted on unused floor space make the true cost much higher. It alsoneedlessly pumps 20,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere."

Mr Fox said: "Over the parliament's seven-yearlong-term budget this will in fact cost taxpayers a staggering £928 million. Inhard economic times, there are so many better things that could be spenton rather than empty buildings and needless journeys."

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