European Parliament Travelling Circus Must End

13 November 2007
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today added his voice to a call to French President Nicholas Sarkozy to end the European Parliament's monthly trek to Strasbourg. President Sarkozy was addressing MEPs today in the provincial French town and received a letter from the Campaign for Parliament Reform, a cross party group of MEPs fighting to base all meetings of the European Parliament in Brussels.

The European Parliament must, by law, meet 12 times a year in Strasbourg, but the vast Parliament building sits empty for the rest of the year. Most of the working meetings of the Parliament take place in Brussels, and a clear majority of MEPs want to end the Strasbourg trip.

The costs for the twelve relocations per year and the maintenance of buildings in Strasbourg during a whole year amount to 250 million euros per year. The Campaign for Parliament Reform has calculated that in terms of C02 emissions, the trips to Strasbourg create 18,900 tons of CO2 emissions - the equivalent of 13,000 transatlantic flights.

Speaking from Strasbourg, Mr Smith said:

"I have nothing against the town of Strasbourg, I visited it often when I was a student up the road at Heidelberg, and I wish the town well. But for a legislature to have two main places of work is just daft, and I would happily never see the inside or outside of this building again.

"MEPs are the gypsies of the political community, but to the extent we are based anywhere it is Brussels. Our offices are there, our staff are there, everyone we need to see is there. Yet once a month I have to pack up my office into a trunk which then goes down to France at huge and unnecessary expense to the taxpayer.

"The Campaign for Parliamentary Reform has done us all a service by calculating the cost to the environment as well, and I hope that President Sarkozy will have a careful read of the letter. I'm not quite convinced that all the ideas the Campaign has suggested will work, but it does show we are willing to talk."