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Friday, October 15, 2010

MEPs should vote for common sense

Conservative MEP Ashley Fox may have thought of a practical plan to reduce some of the ridiculous cost of the European Parliament's travelling circus from Brussels to Strasbourg each month.

There have been many previous attempts to abolish this hugely wasteful-PR-disaster-of-a-practice before (it even made it into the Con-Lib Coalition Agreement). But, alas, it is written in the EU treaties that the EP will have its plenary sessions in Strasbourg - which would only change over Sarkozy's (or any other French President's) dead body.

It is estimated that the exercise costs taxpayers around €200m a year and produces at least an extra 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

But, unlike previous efforts, Fox's plan may actually work. Fox wants to combine the two Strasbourg plenary sessions scheduled for September 2012 into one, which he says, "could save €15m and prevent 1600 tonnes of CO2 being needlessly wasted."

The EU treaties say that:

The European Parliament shall have its seat in Strasbourg where the 12 periods of monthly plenary sessions, including the budget session, shall be held. The periods of additional plenary sessions shall be held in Brussels. The committees of the European Parliament shall meet in Brussels. The General Secretariat of the European Parliament and its departments shall remain in Luxembourg.

Combining, rather than scrapping, the extra plenary session wouldn't break the rule of having "12 monthly" sessions in Strasbourg.

So far, 180 MEPs have signed his declaration which would require a simple majority of those present in the parliamentary chamber to be successful.

This would only be a small victory for common sense but it would send an important message and show that many MEPs find the practice as absurd as the rest of us.

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