Big step forward for campaign to end Strasbourg circus

Campaigning MEP Ashley Fox today hailed a key vote in the European Parliament as a major boost in his drive to end the notorious Strasbourg “travelling circus”.

Campaigning MEP Ashley Fox today hailed a key vote in the European Parliament as a major boost in his drive to end the notorious Strasbourg “travelling circus”.

The parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee today voted by 22 to 4 to adopt a report, which is being hailed as a potentially-historic step towards stopping the wasteful two-seat system.

Mr Fox, Conservative MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar, has jointly authored the hard-hitting report setting out a roadmap for reform.

He said: “This is the first time the parliament has formally set out its intention to pursue a policy of treaty change to end this crazy state of affairs. I am extremely encouraged by the support our strategy has attracted. This plants a flag in the ground for the cause of reform.”

His report, drafted jointly with German Green MEP Gerald Hafner, focuses on the economic and environmental costs of the dual-seat system, as well as the weight of public sentiment which is deeply opposed. The present arrangement is simply unsustainable, it argues, and MEPs should be allowed to decide for themselves where the parliament sits.

Most of the European Parliament’s work is done at its huge complex of offices and debating chambers in Brussels, but once a month 766 MEPs, 3,000 staff and 25 trucks carrying documents and equipment all decamp to Strasbourg in France to sit there for three days.

A report by the Parliament Secretary General last week put the annual cost at €102 million, but Conservative MEPs say “invisible” costs such as amortisation of buildings, and money wasted on unused floor space brings the true cost to €156m, or £131m. It also needlessly pumps 20,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

Mr Fox said: “Unless something changes this is set to cost taxpayers something approaching a billion pounds over the course of the EU’s next seven-year budget programme. Think what else the money could buy in terms of genuine investment to make Europe more competitive and more prosperous.

“Think how foolish the parliament looks when it allows this while lecturing its citizens about climate change. How can it be remotely sensible in such challenging times?

“Today we have started start to roll back this nonsense. From here we take the debate to the Presidents and Premiers in the European Council to help us win the treaty change we need.”

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