A survey of European Parliament members has shown that nine out of ten of them think it is time to stop using Strasbourg as their common work base one week per month, and concentrate on Brussels. The shuttling between these cities has long been criticised as a waste of time and money.
Parliament vice-president responsible for democracy and human rights, Briton Edward McMillan-Scott, has re-invigorated the debate, saying the decision on where to meet should be up to MEPs.
Strasbourg is a symbol of European post-war reconciliation, but a report by McMillan-Scott last year estimated the cost of the commuting to the city at 180 million euros per year — causing 19,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
The MEPs already gather mostly in Brussels, home of other EU institutions, but EU states made a concession to France in 1992, to meet in Strasbourg part of the time.
Changing that would need all 27 EU states’ agreement, and France has always been opposed. More countries this year, however, are pushing for EU spending cuts, to mirror austerity at home.