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Strasbourg's uncertain EU future

brussels bureau

Strasbourg's uncertain EU future


One of the parliament’s vice-presidents, Briton Edward McMillan-Scott, is far from happy with the status quo. He has been arguing for years to move operations to Brussels, and he was quick to show our correspondent supporting evidence.

Edward McMillan-Scott: “This area here is now…you see buses over here… until last month, buses used to come in here with visitors’ groups, but because this is now cracking up… the surface… they are no longer allowed in here. It is one of the problems of the construction of the building: very fast, not very good, and as you know the ceiling in the hemicycle collapsed in 2008.”

Down time in transit also chafes, as unproductive not just for the MEPs but for the many assistants, translators and journalists.

euronews: “Mister McMillan-Scott, did you have a good trip?”

McMillan-Scott: “Yes, [even though] it is long and pointless, but I started this morning at about a quarter past nine from my home in the middle of England, and now it is half past five, although I’ve lost one hour because the time change. I fly from Birmingham to Lyon, so I go South then I fly North from Lyon to Strasbourg, and it takes about seven hours — seven hours wasted!”

euronews: “But moving the Parliament away from Strasbourg would require to change the Treaty which is possible only if France agrees. What could you offer to France, how to convince the French to accept alternatives?”

McMillan-Scott: “I think the French would accept a democratic vote of the European Parliament, when the view of the Parliament is settled. It is quite clear the way the majority thinks, but we have not begun to look at the alternatives yet, and I think that the Parliament has now the capacity to make recommendations for Treaty change, we need to look at all this. I am not a revolutionary, I am somebody who thinks that we should be efficient, I am a pro-European, fundamentally, and I have been so for all my life, I want the European Parliament to succeed. I am afraid to say it can not succeed here in Strasbourg. This is a city of the past, as far as the Parliament is concerned, and I think France and the French must understand that.”

Repeated reports say that a vast majority of MEPs want to let Strasbourg be bygones and stick to Brussels. Paris has referred to this as “regrettable.”

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