THE European Parliament’s “travelling circus” – which sees all 736 MEPs and their staff decamp once a month from Brussels to Strasbourg at a cost of around £150 million a year – could be nearing an end.
The shuttle arrangement was enshrined in an agreement signed at an EU summit in Edinburgh in 1992, making Strasbourg an official seat of the European Parliament and laying down that 12 four-day plenary sessions per year must take place there.
But now the parliament’s budget committee has said all meetings should take place in Brussels, where committee meetings and some mini sessions are already held.
The trips to and from Strasbourg are said to produce 19,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, which is equivalent to 13,000 flights from London to New York and back.
Lothians-based Labour MEP David Martin said: “It is a slight embarrassment for Scotland that the agreement to move between the two sites was signed in Edinburgh, but I am in favour of one site in Brussels. However, any decision to change the current arrangement would require an amendment to the EU Treaties, a process which requires unanimity among all EU member states.”
He criticised France for using “every trick in the book” to silence any debate on withdrawing from Strasbourg.
A petition to end the shuttle system has attracted 1.2 million signatures.