Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries is far from happy with talk of a Brussels-only parliament. In his eyes, this city is the European capital bar none, three days and nights per month.
euronews: Why should the MEPs be all that enthusiastic about having THEIR headquarters in Strasbourg?
Roland Ries: I think what the euro-MPs complain about the most is the shuttling between Brussels and Strasbourg. I proposed to France’s junior minister for European affairs Mr Wauquiez to do away with this shuttling, to base the whole European Parliament in Strasbourg. The European treaties say quite clearly that the seat of the European Parliament is in Strasbourg. There is no reason for it not to be in Strasbourg, for not holding the meetings of the working groups in Strasbourg, holding the meetings of the political groups in Strasbourg. Therefore, get rid of the shuttling which is such an inconvenience for the parliamentarians, and I can understand them. Well then, let’s follow the logic of the treaties all the way and regroup the Parliament in one city, but in Strasbourg.
euronews: Would the most democratic solution not be to let the MEPs decide the location of their working headquarters?
Ries: As I recall, the European Union is founded in the treaties, which have been validated today by the 27 EU countries, and I believe that this legal base does not rely on parliamentary majorities, which can vary from one electoral mandate to the next. Therefore, the treaties are the basis for the European Parliament being in Strasbourg, and it is not for the MEPs to modify them.
euronews: But don’t you think that the symbolic resonance of Strasbourg as city of Franco-German reconciliation is far less for the people of Ireland, Finland, Bulgaria or Portugal than for someone from France or Germany?
Ries: The European Union was constituted on the basis of Franco-German reconciliation, Franco-German alignment, without the British at the beginning. Today, other countries are associated with this basis, this core. I rejoice over that, but one must not, after all, consider that what was extremely important at a given time, and that something which is still pivotal for European integration can be passed up in favour of profits and losses.
euronews: The MEPs who are against Strasbourg as the seat of parliament are aware that the city needs an alternative. Can you see any alternative?
Ries: For me that question is not negotiable, and I believe that for the French government the presence in Strasbourg of the European Parliament, as I recall the only institution of the European Union on French territory, is not negotiable, and I totally approve of this position.