A campaign to end the Parliament’s monthly Strasbourg session has gathered one million signatures. But the issue may result in an institutional Pandora’s Box that EU nations have no intention of opening for now, a leading French MEP told EURACTIV.
The ‘One Seat’ campaign for the EU Parliament to end its monthly plenary sessions in Strasbourg and relocate full-time to Brussels gained momentum on 20 September, when it reached the symbolic one-million signature mark.
The petition, launched in May 2006, was handed to the Commission on 21 September by a group of Parliamentarians, led by Cecilia Malmström MEP. The Swede said that she hoped the matter will soon be dealt with as part of discussions on the EU’s future institutional arrangements.
“We are very excited to present the European Commission with the first citizen initiative ever,” said Malmström, in a reference to a provision of the EU Constitution on participatory democracy that French and Dutch voters rejected last year.
“The fact that citizens have spoken out about this issue shows how they would like the European Union to function – in an efficient and transparent manner,” she said.
According to the petitioners, the dispersion of Parliament’s activities between three working places – Brussels for the daily Parliamentary work, Luxembourg for administration and Strasbourg for the plenary sessions – “has a negative impact on time and cost-effectiveness and the overall image of the European Union”.
“This waste of tax-payers’ money is destroying public opinion,” the campaigners say in reference to the ‘No’ votes to the Constitution in France and the Netherlands.