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.