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MEPs vote to reduce Strasbourg sessions and save millions

March 18, 2011 1:55 PM

Local Euro MP Liz Lynne has welcomed a vote in the European Parliament to cut one of its expensive monthly sessions held in Strasbourg instead of Brussels.

MEPs voted by 357 to 253, with 40 abstentions, to combine two of their October sessions in the French city into a single week.

The change will save millions of euros and substantially cut the EP's carbon footprint, while respecting the Treaty requirement of holding 12 plenary sessions in Strasbourg every year.

Commenting after the vote, Liz Lynne said: "Today's vote clearly shows that a majority of MEPs are fed up with the Parliament's monthly 'travelling circus' to Strasbourg."

"MEPs have, through Parliamentary procedure, at last managed to get rid of one of these expensive and wasteful trips, but unfortunately for the rest of the year we will still have to make the trek to Strasbourg, unless governments agree to change the EU Treaties."

"I have criticised the extravagance of having two Parliament buildings for many years. It is such a waste of MEPs' time and the taxpayer's money, not to mention the damaging carbon footprint."

"I will continue to campaign with colleagues to have the entire seat issue debated and voted on by Parliament as a whole, making use of its legal right to propose changes to the Treaty. We must rid the EU of this huge financial burden."

The 500 mile round trips to Strasbourg represents a huge cost to the European taxpayer. Until now, twelve times a year, MEPs, their assistants and many hundreds more parliamentary staff make the journey to Srasbourg. They are followed by huge lorries that carry some 3500 trunks packed full of folders and papers necessary for a week's work, all at an estimated cost of 200 million Euros per year.

ENDS

NOTES:

· The Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament have long called for a single seat for the European Parliament in Brussels.

· The European Parliament (EP) is the only parliament in the world that has more than one official seat. It is divided between Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Brussels with Strasbourg as its official meeting place. Unfortunately, the EP is also the only parliament in the world that does not have the right to decide upon the location of its seat. This right is exclusively reserved for European Heads of State and Government who can only revise their decision by unanimity.

· The vote confirms the findings of a report published last month by the cross-party Brussels-Strasbourg seat study group (see www.brusselsstrasbourgstudy.eu), which showed that the vast majority of MEPs are in favour of a single seat for the European Parliament, in Brussels. Above all MEPs believe that they, not member state governments, should have the right to decide where Parliament meets.