Everybody agrees: The European Parliament needs a single seat. But former minister and MEP Catherine Trautmann says it should be Strasbourg, not Brussels.
Ahead of launching “The Seat” campaign on Wednesday (21 October), she told EURACTIV that the debate over the Parliament seat is intimately linked to the future of the European Union.
“Locating both the executive and legislative powers of the EU in Brussels only strengthens technocracy, undermining the political and democratic ambition the European Union requires.
Members of the European Parliament, their staff and files, regularly move between Brussels, which hosts committee meetings and Strasbourg, where plenary sessions are held on a monthly basis. Meanwhile, Luxembourg houses the Parliament’s administrative offices.
Roughly €114 million is spent every year to move the European Parliament between its Brussels and Strasbourg seats every month, according to an assessment by the European Court of Auditors. Moving all employees from Luxembourg to Brussels, alone, would save €80 million over 50 years.
But Trautmann disagrees, and considers the costs a false pretence. The costs are characterised by incredible guesswork, which vary from €51 to over €200 billion every year depending on estimates.
“To our knowledge there is no accounting method that allows for an objective assessment of the cost of the Strasbourg seat. The same goes for the cost of mini-sessions held in Brussels. There are serious loopholes that need to be addressed,” according to a note from The Seat campaign.
Trautmann says she will seek to challenge years of anti-Strasbourg mini-battles. “We need it as it will bring the citizens closer to the European Union,” she claimed.