The European Parliament has again voted to end the travelling circus.
This is the bizarre monthly ritual by which the entire European Parliament is moved from Brussels to Strasbourg once a month. A fleet of lorries ferry mountains of paper, and 736 MEPs and 3,000 other staff relocate to Strasbourg for those monthly sessions.
That is a trip of 220 miles, and is reckoned to cost £150 million a year.
Now the MEPs have voted by 429 to 184 to end the practice.
Richard Ashworth, the leader of the Conservative MEPs, hailed the vote as “a very significant step forward”.
“Any possible justification for Strasbourg sessions is long gone and the public will no longer stand for such scandalous waste,” he said.
Unfortunately, any change requires the consent of the French government and a Treaty change. Yes, trifling matters like social policy and the single market are decided by qualified majority voting, but ending the travelling circus is subject to a national veto.
The French are adamant that the circus won’t be stopped. It brings lots of dosh, as well as prestige, into Strasbourg. Their price for ending the circus is to move the European Central Bank from Frankfurt to Strasbourg – which is, of course, unthinkable for the Germans.
There is another solution. Move the parliament permanently to Strasbourg. The French would be very happy. The Germans would be too, along with the rest of us, because we’d save all that money.
Only the Belgians would be upset. And they could be told to get lost. In any case, they benefit from the EU to the tune of many billions of Euros every year.
Great idea. The EU President, Herman Van Rompuy, should consider it right away. Unfortunately, he’s Belgian…