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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Royal Extravagance

Spot the odd one out…
  • Buckingham Palace in London
  • Palacio Real de Madrid, Spain
  • Stockholms slott, Sweden, and
  • The Louise Weiss building in Strasbourg, France.
We’re guessing that most people will not ever have heard of the last one. It’s in fact, the infamous seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg – better known as the reason for the European Parliament’s utterly ridiculous ‘travelling circus’.

The European Parliament's 216-mile monthly trek to Strasbourg beggars belief. But no matter how many citizens, MEPs or even EU officials complain, the out-of-touch people at the very top refuse to bow their heads to listen.

In an interview with Euractiv, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek got the chance to explain why he defends the Strasbourg seat.
Strasbourg is a symbolic place. Symbols are important
€200 million a year is an expensive symbol, but Buzek sticks to his guns:
We can also ask whether for some member states it is right to keep a monarchy. But for these countries that has an historical meaning and it is still an important part of public life and interest
Right...Perhaps that explains the European Parliament’s, at times, interesting take on democracy (i.e. voting to ignore the outcome of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty). He continues,
So, why would we eliminate Strasbourg? It is the very symbolic place of the European Union. It is indeed very important as it represents the essence of our main value: solidarity
Apart from the bizarre parallel that Buzek is trying to draw between Europe's monarchies and the two-seat European Parliament, what kind of 'solidarity' is he talking about? And with who exactly? Scrapping Strasbourg would save over €200 million a year and 20,268 tonnes of CO2 emissions, so he certainly can't be referring to solidarity with taxpayers or the environment (but who cares, eh?)

What's next, horse drawn carriages for Buzek and his mates and a regal eurocrat wedding?


Robert Thomas Snare said...

Why stop with Strasbourg, which I recall had recent roof structural problems to be repaired at vast cost?

A recent visit to the main Parliament building in Brussels revealed the fact that the main chamber is used for two half days a week. The heating and lighting costs must be phenomemal, especially in the most expensive capital city in the world.

It is no wonder therefore that the EU seeks to fine Britain £1 billion in the current year for alleged infringements of its preposterous rules relating to green taxes. refuse and recycling.

The British nation is sleep walking to a disaster of such magnitude that it may never recover. Even analogies with lemmings running off the cliffs of Dover fail to impact on a nation more obsessed with Big Brother and the like.

Thank goodness the Express has realised belatedly the dangers of an unelected Federal stasi of Europe. There is a very small chink of light at last.

Charles Grove said...

Most people will have 3 odd ones out, never having heard of any of them that aren't in one's own country.

As I suspect you people know, the "solidarity" he's talking about is the Franco-German unity that hasn't threatened to kill us all for over sixty years - a truly delightful change of affairs from the past! And despite Conservative and Liberal MEPs launching the oneseat.eu petition, despite the pleas of European citizens, it doesn't even matter what Buzek thinks, because the European Parliament is the only parliament which doesn't get to decide where it sits - that's decided by treaty. The man you need to convince is Sarkozy.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I can't go with this argument, which is a very old criticism against the EEC/EC/EU/4th Reich.

If the EU is to have money to spend, I'd prefer that money to be wasted than used efficiently in oppressing us. Money and time wasted moving feom venue to venue makes the EU law-creation/power-grabbing/democracy-smashing machine less efficient than it would otherwise be. It does less, steals less, makes fewer regulations. What's not to like?

Open Europe blog team said...

Thanks for the comments. Charles Grove, we somehow doubt that war would break out should the two-seat Parliament be scrapped, but sure, many in the EU elite do lack the confidence to replace ceremonies,rituals and institutions with real policies (which is most unfortunate).

And yes, we're too aware of the fact that the travelling circus is protected by a veto in the Treaties (see here http://openeuropeblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/weird-and-wonderful-world-of-european.html and here http://www.openeurope.org.uk/media-centre/pressrelease.aspx?pressreleaseid=98 )