East Anglia: MEPs unite in bid to stop Strasbourg trek
- Credit: Contributed
MEPS from all parties have united in a bid to end the monthly trek from Brussels to Strasbourg for full meetings of the European Parliament.
East of England Tory MEP Vicky Ford is helping to lead the “Stop the Strasbourg Circus campaign” which is aimed at ending the monthly trek,
She said the cost of the regular moves was about 200million euros a year – and it caused major disruption for MEPs, EU staff, and everyone else connected with the parliament.
“Strasbourg is a beautiful city and it can do very well out of tourism and business – it does not need the European parliament turning up every month,” she said.
There was widespread support for the move – only one in four MEPs from across Europe wanted to carry on taking business there – but it would be difficult to change because holding the parliament was written into the European constitution and to change that would require a unanimous decision by heads of government.
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Mrs Ford said: “We need our government to persuade the French that it is more important to safeguard their industries than it is to safeguard the Strasbourg parliament.”
Labour MEP Richard Howitt also wants to see and end to the trek, but pointed out that it was the Maastricht Treaty – signed by Conservative Prime Minister John Major – that has confirmed Strasbourg’s place as a seat for the European parliament.
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He said: “I am proud to have campaigned with the cross-party Single Seat campaign to end the wasteful travel of the European Parliament to Strasbourg, and that establishing a single meeting place in Brussels has been a clear pledge in successive Labour manifestos for the European Elections.”
Lib Dem MEP Andrew Duff has long supported the “single seat” campaign for the parliament to be based only at Brussels.
A spokesman for him said: “I don’t think any British MEPs want to see the parliament continuing to meet in Strasbourg. It is costly and inefficient. It is a great shame John Major agreed to it being in the constitution.”
UKIP wants to see British withdrawal from the EU – with no MEPs being sent to any European parliament.
The Strasbourg Circus campaign was set up by West of England Conservative MEP Ashley Fox and is being co-ordinated by a number of his colleagues – including Mrs Ford in the East of England.