MEPs who feel European unity belongs in Brussels have launched an official petition to desert Strasbourg. The momentum to stay put is building, as the parliament has only had one roof over its head for the last two plenary sessions. That has rather rained on France’s parade during its presidency of the European Council.
Belgian euro-MP Frederique Ries said: “Contrary to previous initiatives, such as the big petition with 1.3 million signatures and counting, or more anonymous others which nevertheless give the majority response calling for the repatriation of sessions to Brussels, this one is entirely official.
It is an official European Parliament document. People have to put their signature next to their names so there is no sort of secret vote. I don’t think isolating France is much of a problem. France is isolated enough because it doesn’t want to talk about it.”
The MEPs’ monthly travel obligation to Strasbourg sessions at least 12 times per year under EU rules racks up a more than 200 million euro annual bill.
Analyst Sebastian Kurpas explained it is a matter of national pride: “How the situation evolves is difficult to predict. France certainly is not going to give away this advantage for nothing. If this happens, the French government will certainly ask for some meaningful compensation.”
A fault in the Strasbourg chamber brought the ceiling down during the summer break, while there was no one there to hear it. Before they convene there again next month some of the one-seat critics have already taken to wearing hard hats.