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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 24 October, 2014

MEPs back proposal to end practice of ‘travelling circus’

But France is likely to block any changes to the current system whereby MEPs decamp, at considerable cost, to Strasbourg every month.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

MEPS HAVE OVERWHELMINGLY backed proposals to allow the European Parliament to select its own seat and end the practice of holding sessions in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Currently the European Parliament moves from the Belgian capital to Strasbourg every month in order to comply with a legal obligation that it sit in the French city for plenary sessions twelve times a year.

Dubbed as the “travelling circus” the monthly move is estimated to cost the EU taxpayer some €200 million every year.

The 435-kilometre journey involves the transportation of 5,000 MEPs, officials and translators as well as lorry-loads of documents and equipment.

The so-called Fox-Häfner report, after the two MEPs who wrote a report recommending the practice end, was backed by 483 votes to 141 in the parliament today.

However actually implementing the change will face opposition from France, which holds a veto, as the sessions in Strasbourg are economically crucial to the city.

“Our position is consistent and known, it is that of the Treaty,” one French diplomat told The Telegraph adding that the country has gone to the European Court of Justice on the issue before.

In a statement prior to the vote, Socialist Party MEP for Dublin, Paul Murphy, said: “Approximately 10 per cent of the Parliament’s annual budget, between €156 and €204 million is spent to sustain this traveling circus.

“The annual CO2 emissions associated with the transfers to and from the three working locations – Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg – is estimated to be between 11,000 and 19,000 tonnes.”

Read: Can you name one of your local MEPs? 91 per cent of Dubliners can’t

Read: ‘A great day for Europe’: MEPs approve EU’s budget for the next seven years

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