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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid