News / Europe

EU Lawmakers Seek to End Costly 'Traveling Circus'

FILE - A member of the European Parliament attends a debate on the state of union, in Strasbourg, September 11, 2013.
FILE - A member of the European Parliament attends a debate on the state of union, in Strasbourg, September 11, 2013.
Reuters
The European Parliament will agree on Wednesday to scrap its second headquarters in Strasbourg and end what lawmakers say is a 200-million-euro-a-year traveling circus between the French city and Brussels.

But France, keen to keep a symbol of its status as a founding member of the European Union, is likely to veto the decision when it is taken before national leaders.

At a time of intensified demands for budget cuts and  economic hardship across Europe, EU leaders and many lawmakers want to stop the vast cost of having two parliamentary bases and use Brussels, the EU's main seat, as the sole headquarters.

EU law, however, says that the parliament, the only elected body among the EU's institutions and one of increasing clout, must have a four-day session once a month in Strasbourg.

That entails 766 members and their staff moving 430 kilometers (270 miles) from Belgium to the eastern French city, which is actually closer to Munich than to Brussels.

Reams of parliamentary documents must also be shifted and a large number of reporters and lobbyists also have to tag along.

The monthly move is estimated to cost between 156 million and 204 million euros ($275 million) a year, but also has an environmental impact that Green MEPs and many others find unacceptable at a time of heightened climate awareness.

Roughly 2,400 parliament staff also work in Luxembourg.

Since the European Union's Lisbon treaty came into force in 2009 - giving the European Parliament new powers - a growing number of MEPs have campaigned against the costly set-up, with the most vocal opponent Britain's Edward McMillan-Scott.

“Over 75 percent of lawmakers want to end the costly and inefficient monthly, four-day trek to Strasbourg from our home in the political capital of the European Union,” said McMillan-Scott, a British Liberal Democrat.

Vacant

The glass and steel Strasbourg building stands almost vacant for more than 300 days a year and accrues 12 million euros in maintenance costs.

France, however, has defended its right to host the assembly and all the business it brings.

In the latest of several rulings in France's favor, the European Court of Justice last year annulled a European Parliament decision to reduce the number of sessions in Strasbourg, saying it is for EU governments to decide changes.

EU governments must all agree on granting a single seat to the parliament, effectively giving France a veto on any campaign seeking to put an end to the two-seat arrangement.

Lawmakers still hope to garner enough public support to eventually pressure France to give in, building on a 2006 petition that was endorsed by more than 1 million EU citizens.

EU lawmakers argue the parliament has undergone a transformation since it was created as an assembly in 1952, moving from a consultative body without the power to propose legislation to a house representing a 28-nation bloc of 500 million and co-legislating with governments.

“The traveling circus between difference workplaces leads to unjustifiable costs and environmental damage that can no longer be explained to the public,” Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) said in a statement.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid