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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid