Every month, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are required to move their operations to Strasbourg, France from headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, for a four-day session.
The majority of MEPs, 78 percent, want a single location for the Parliament. France, however, has been the main force of opposition to scrapping the Strasbourg offices.
Asbestos was recently found in part of the Strasbourg Parliament buildings, according to a March 5 Parliament press release. It isn’t the first time the Strasbourg buildings have had problems. In 2008, the roof of one of the buildings fell in during a summer session.
MEPs have questioned how money is spent in Strasbourg, including how contracts are awarded for the building complexes, according to a Brussels–Strasbourg Seat Study led by British MEP Edward McMillan-Scott.
Moving Parliament monthly costs an estimated 180 million euro (US$235 million) and produces 19,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.
British MEP Catherine Bearder Tweeted on Monday: “Forecast snow in France. The monthly day-long time and money wasting drag to Strasbourg again, now likely to be disrupted. Grrrr.”
As a unified European leadership developed, the Parliament originally used the Council of Europe’s Strasbourg chamber. Other institutions have, however, grown in Brussels, where the European Union Commission and other agencies are now based.
A Radio Free Europe article published Monday describes the monthly trek as it starts: janitors lugging some 6,000 cases full of files to trucks outside the Brussels Parliament buildings to be carted off to Strasbourg—the MEPs’ traveling office.
Last year, MEPs voted to regularly hold two sessions at one time in Strasbourg to reduce travel, but France blocked the motion. The European Court of Justice is expected to rule on it later this year. A more detailed report on the issue will be released in June.
“Quite clearly there is French pride attached to this and we fully accept that,” McMillan-Scott told Radio Free Europe on Monday. “On the other hand we would like France to understand that it is only a matter of time before the European Parliament decides to move and I would advise the French to think very carefully for the alternatives for the city of Strasbourg and the buildings that exist there.”
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