Published: Thu, 16 May 2013
Sean Kelly MEP has given his support to the Single Seat campaign, as a member of the campaign steering committee, which aims to eliminate the huge “wasteful” expense of holding European Parliament sittings in two cities, Brussels and Strasbourg.
“It is time to face up to the reality that the traditional multi-seat operation of the European Parliament is a wasteful one and action needs to be taken to reduce Parliamentary sittings to a single seat.
“The European Parliament is mostly based in its buildings in Brussels, but every month MEPs, and most Parliamentary staff travel to Strasbourg where our plenary sessions are held. It costs €180 million every year to run and maintain the Parliament’s buildings in Strasbourg, yet it lies almost unoccupied for 317 days of the year,” Mr Kelly said in Brussels today.
The Ireland South MEP also pointed to environmental concerns arising out of the multi-seat situation: “It is estimated that 19,000 tonnes of CO2 is created due to the thousands travelling to Strasbourg for plenary sessions every month. In fact, most MEPs have to use two flights to get to and from Strasbourg, as direct flights are often unavailable, resulting in even more air pollution. This is in addition to the convoy of trucks making a return journey from Brussels to transport all the dossiers and files required for the work of Parliament during the plenary week.
“While I understand the historical significance of the Strasbourg seat and its importance to the local economy, we can no longer justify such an enormous expense in austere times.
“A compromise could be to make Strasbourg a home for another significant institution. Or perhaps European Council summits could be held in Strasbourg rather than Brussels, in lieu of Parliamentary sittings, in a bid to drastically cut costs.”
Mr Kelly noted that a Treaty change would be required to amend the current situation: “We need political will and compromise to make a positive change. With a practical approach, we could resolve this issue and save in excess of €200 million every year – which could be redirected to European citizens through the many EU funding mechanisms.”