The Gas-Guzzling Travelling Circus

This week, the EU Parliament holds its monthly session in Strasbourg. Strasbourg, France, that is. Although being based in Brussels and having built a monstrous castle at the top of a hill there, they travel once a month to another ghastly castle to convene. This building – erected solely for the Parliament – is then EMPTY for the remaining 307 days each year.

The rest of the year, 785 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), 1,220 officials, and countless hordes of journalists, lobyists and other creatures travel from Brussels to Strasbourg and back again for week-long sessions. The MEPs alone need 15 lorries to haul all their documents back and forth each month, as we all understand is necessary in this day and age of e-mail.
Oh, yes, and I forgot the 525 people who travel to Strasbourg from Luxemburg, where the Parliament’s administrative offices so wisely have been located.

The cost for this travelling circus amounts to millions of euros alone. If you only count in money, that is.

The EU has recently decided to cut greenhouse gases by 20 per cent. A couple of EU Parliamentarians therefore amused themselves by investigating the environmental cost for this madness, and today announce that the CO2 emissions from all this is at least 20,000 tonnes per year. You can read more about it in this excellent publication, one of the best news sources on all things EU.

So, why doesn’t the EU Parliament stop this? The answer is simple: They want to, but they do not have the power to change it.

That’s food for thought. The only directly elected institution in the EU is so aggressively powerless that it can’t even take a decision on where to house itself.

Now you might understand why I usually don’t bother to travel to Strasbourg to cover what they are doing.

One million people signed a petition some time ago to put an end to this. But such a decision has to be taken unanimously by the member states. And there’s one country that just won’t give up.

I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one.


2 Responses to “The Gas-Guzzling Travelling Circus”

  1. Jon Worth » Blog Archive » EP in Strasbourg - well, it pumps out C02 too Says:

    […] be precise, as much as flying 13000 people across the Atlantic and back. See The Independent, and Jonathan Newton’s blog. I’m actually quite surprised that this figure is not higher, perhaps due to the EP buildings […]

  2. James Says:

    Hmmm. I agree completely with the closure of the Strasbourg Parliament and the ending of the crazy commuting involved, but living in Strasbourg (as an Erasmus student, I am living the European dream) I’d hate to imagine what would happen to the city and the parts of town occupied by the parliament. Especially since the long overdue tram line extension to the ridiculously suburban European Parliament campus is only now nearing completion.

    It’s also amusing when I come to plan weekends away from Strasbourg on the train… I can buy advance purchase ‘prem’ or ‘sparpreis’ fares to Marseille (€15), Paris (€15), Munich (€50). But Brussels… €80 each way. That would be the one train that doesn’t need any discounted seats to entice passengers.


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