Landmark vote on Fox report to stop the Strasbourg circus

20-Nov-2013 @ 15:0

Ashley Fox Ashley Fox

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

In a landmark vote, the European Parliament today took amajor step towards scrapping the notorious Strasbourg Travelling Circus.

A plenary session of the parliament approved by 483 votesto 141 a report setting out a roadmap for reform, jointly authored by SouthWest Conservative MEP Ashley Fox.

After the vote, Mr Fox said: "This vote is anoverwhelming endorsement of our campaign to scrap the parliament's dual seatsystem. So long as such outrageous wastefulness continues, I do not think MEPscan look voters in the eye. Today's vote is not the end of the travellingcircus, but it may be the beginning of the end."

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 amonth766MEPs, 3,000 staff and 25 trucks carrying documents and equipment alldecamp to Strasbourg in France to sit there for three days.

A report by the Parliament Secretary General recently putthe 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 spent onrather than empty buildings and needless journeys."

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