Thursday, 4 September 2008

Strasbourg in Brussels

With the Parliament almost through its so-called "exceptional" plenary in Brussels this week the news came through this afternoon from the Secretary General that there are further safety concerns down in Strasbourg to the extent that the session scheduled for the week of 22 September will now also take place in Brussels.

As I have said on a previous blog on this website the SNP has campaigned long and hard for the European Parliament to have its seat in Brussels and for the Strasbourg building to be ditched. This week's session in Brussels has shown how much more effective the EP is when it meets in Brussels - the Commission and the Council are just up the road. To be honest in all the fours years I have spent working in the European Parliament in Brussels I have never seen the Parliament quite like this. Everyone just seems much more relaxed and happy with staff not spending two days travelling back and forth to Strasbourg on a 5 hour train journey and trying to cram 5 days work into 3 days.

Being in Brussels is definitely more cost effective than the 200 million euros it costs the taxpayer each year for a wasted journey no one wants to make. This week the chamber in Brussels has shown it is more than capable of withstanding the pressure of a plenary session and with the necessary infrastructure put in place Brussels can well cope. If elected to represent the SNP and the people of Scotland in the European Parliament next year this is one issue I will continue to campaign for - to bring the EP back to Brussels.

As I have said before the EP is the only parliament in the world that cannot decide for itself where its seat should be. That decision rests with the Member State governments and it requires a unanimous decision of all the national governments in the Council of Ministers to agree. The French government remains against any such move to Brussels so it is ironic that the collapse of the ceiling should happen under their Presidency.

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