Report boosts Tory campaign to stop EU's costly Strasbourg circus

01-Aug-2014 @ 10:15

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An official report by the EU's Court of Auditors has added huge weight to the campaign by Conservative MEPs to stop the European Parliament sitting in Strasbourg as well as Brussels.

The study, compiled by the auditors at the request of the Parliament, finds that moving all sittings from Strasbourg to Brussels would save £90 million a year. In addition there would be a one-off windfall saving of £490 million if the Strasbourg buildings were sold successfully.

Philip Bradbourn MEP, Conservative spokesman on budgetary control, said: "This is the most powerful evidence yet that the wasteful Strasbourg travelling circus must be scrapped – and the sooner the better. When the EU's own experts are saying this is financial madness, surely it is time to listen."

Most of the European Parliament's work is done at its sprawling complex of offices and debating chambers in Brussels, but once a month more than 750 MEPs, 3,000 staff and 25 trucks carrying documents and equipment all decamp to Strasbourg in France to meet there for three days.

In a resolution of November 2013 the parliament asked the Court of Auditors to provide a comprehensive analysis of the potential savings for the EU budget, including savings made through reduced loss of working time and greater efficiency, if Parliament had only one seat.

The Court has found that in addition to "significant savings" achieved by moving parliamentary sittings from Strasbourg to Brussels, moving administrative offices as well from Luxembourg to Brussels could contribute "marginally" to even bigger savings.

It says that over 50 years, scrapping Strasbourg would save a massive £2.6 billion. The predicted savings amount to 6.3 per cent of the parliament's current running costs and are over 10 per cent greater than estimated in a report produced last year by the parliament's own civil servants.  The savings include £46 million each year on buildings and £27 million on hotels, food and transport for staff. Simply cutting out the staff time wasted in traveling back and forth would save nearly £5 million a year.

Mr Bradbourn, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "The scale of the waste confirmed here is eye-watering.  The EU cannot claim credibility or make any sort of claim to financial responsibility so long as this is allowed to continue.

"This is an important report at the very start of a new parliament. It puts this issue right back at the top of the agenda and we will be looking to build on this momentum in the coming weeks."

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