European Parliament agrees to another year of Strasbourg sittings

Conservatives write to Blair calling for action

Strasbourg, 5th April 2006 -- The European Parliament has today voted for another twelve sessions to be held in Strasbourg, at a profligate cost of £150 million to the taxpayer. Conservative MEPs had attempted to put forward amendments that would have limited the number of days MEPs spend in the remote Alsacien city but they were unable to muster the required 37 supporting signatures from Euro-MPs - because many of them were suffering the usual delays that come with the territory when travelling to the poorly-connected city.

Sir Robert Atkins, Deputy Leader of Conservative MEPs, has called on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to put the item on the table at the next meeting of European leaders. Many MEPs lament having to maintain the two-seat operation which sees parliamentarians, staff and lorries full of paperwork shuttled to and fro between Brussels and Strasbourg. Unfortunately, they are in no position to alter the arrangement as it is cast in the treaties of the EU which only European heads of government can change. The ill-fated Conservative amendment would have lessened the blow to the taxpayer by reducing the number of days in each Strasbourg session.

Sir Robert said:

"Every year the European Parliament is forced to pour millions of pounds of taxpayer's money down the plughole. A small community is uprooted each month and relocated 250 miles away for a four day session that can easily be accommodated in Brussels. It's farcical.

"There is nothing in the Strasbourg parliament that we do not have in Brussels.

"Getting to Strasbourg is nowhere near as easy as Brussels so taxpayers lose thousands of man hours of productivity from MEPs and staff.

"Unfortunately, the only people who can change this ludicrous situation are Tony Blair and his EU counterparts. I doubt there are many European leaders who think the Strasbourg situation is not farcical but nobody has taken the lead in trying to change it.

"We have written to the Prime Minister asking him to strive for a single seat Parliament so that taxpayer's money can be put to far better purposes than propping up the Alsacien economy. If the PM could finally scrap Strasbourg sittings, he would go some way towards redeeming himself after the disastrous British EU Presidency."

Top ↑