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EP “oneseat” debate

For one seat of the European Parliament - Brussels

, by Anders Ekberg

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

The issue of the seat of the European Parliament (EP) has over the years proven to be a delicate one with many emotions involved. Isn’t it fair that the Members of the EP themselves decide on where they want to hold their meetings? The Citizens’ Initiative www.oneseat.eu, designed to put and end to the ridiculous commuting for the EP, launched by a number of European Parliamentarians, has by now gathered more than 400,000 signatures. That shows how important this issue is for so many European citizens.

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Every week, I meet in the EP groups from all over Europe, and the only thing that people know about, if any, is the travelling circus the EP is forced to endure every month when they move to the second seat in Strasbourg for 4 days. This discredits the EP entirely in the public eye because it’s the EP that is held responsible even though the blame lies squarely with the heads of state. We can talk all we like about White Papers and Communication Strategies, but when this issue is the only thing people know about the EU, it’s a waste of time.

The EP is the only democratically-elected parliament in the world that is not allowed to take a vote on where they actually want to have their plenary sessions. For democrats such as the European Federalists, this should be a fight worth taking up in order to have efficient and accountable lawmaking on a European level. Most people recognise the efficiency loss (and the waste of money) of not having the important institutions in the same place. While identifying the symbolic value of Strasbourg as a location for some of the EP’s sessions, most agree that the EU should pick one city as the location of its parliament. A cross-European poll at the beginning of May showed 68% of respondents believe the European Parliament should have just one seat - and 76% of those believe that the seat should be in Brussels. There are a number of proposals as to what the buildings in Strasbourg could be used for whilst not forgetting the historic value of Strasbourg as symbol of European integration. For example, establishing a Strasbourg Institute of Technology is one of them. Some think the seat of the EP should solely be based in Strasbourg. The problem would remain, however, of not having the institutions in the same place. The EP has fought its way to spend most of its time in Brussels, and that’s for good reason. Sending the EP to Strasbourg is more than a money issue: it’s about keeping the EP weak and unimportant.

Take for example the foreign policymaking of the Council. Formally there is no need for them to consult the EP, but in Brussels the EP can demand their presence and they can come over because they are just around the block. The EP’s job is also to scrutinise the Commission and the Council and being in the same place is therefore very important. The travelling circus symbolises all that is worst about how decisions are made in the EU, and it shows absolute contempt for the citizens’, their elected representatives and any pretence at democracy at the European level. That is why this campaign is of the utmost importance.

Sign up you too at www.oneseat.eu!

See also : Strasbourg, natural home of the European Parliament by Emmanuel Vallens

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  • On 19 June 2006 at 08:50, by Valéry-Xavier Replying to: For one seat for of the European Parliament - Brussels

    Congratulations for that brillant campaign ! I fully support you on this issue.

    The European Council by refusing to discuss the issue has once again demonstrated the cotempt in which it holds European citizens and their elected representatives. It is definitely unsuprising that some people choose to reject the EU with that appaling behaviour from our government.

    Power to the European Parliament !

  • On 21 June 2006 at 14:39, by aragorn Replying to: For one seat for of the European Parliament : Strasbourg

    Effectivement, il faudrait un seul siège pour le parlement européen, Strasbourg, Bruxelles ayant assez d’institutions à l’heure actuelle et représentant dans l’inconscient des peuples un centre technocratique honni et coupé des réalités. Tout centraliser à Bruxelles serait le meilleur moyen d’accélérer la désagrégation actuellement en cours de l’idée européenne et nous ferait sans doute revenir 100 ans en arrière. La construction de L’Europe est consécutive à Verdun et à Auschwitz et ce n’est pas le confort de quelques députés ou autres fonctionnaires qui feront fléchir un sens et des valeurs qui apparemment les dépassent. Cessez ce lobbying anti-Strasbourg infondé et contre-productif, les arguments financiers étant un prétexte démagogique fallacieux et allez travailler pour les citoyens.

    In two words, for globish addicts, please open a book about Europa and understand the sense of dramatic recent Europa’s history : Verdun, Auschwitz, Sarajevo, have you heard something about it? Forget this poor and very little war against the symbol of Stasbourg, only due to tiny individual views or to some lobby who want to destroy the idea of Europe.

  • On 23 June 2006 at 17:41, by Jan Seifert Replying to: For one seat for of the European Parliament : Strasbourg

    I do not think that I want to destroy the idea of Europe by asking the EP to have one seat. Moreover, this would also mean that the EP could work better in serving citizens instead of wasting its resources in cars, lorries, trains and flights. However, you give a nice perspective of one day maybe having a single seat of the EP, Council or whichever institution in Sarajevo.

  • On 24 June 2006 at 21:45, by Ali Baba Replying to: For one seat for of the European Parliament : Strasbourg

    We all agree that the EP should have one seat, which is Strasbourg. So why talk about Brussels?

    Je trouve que l’amalgame entre “un seul siège pour le PE” et “déménagement du PE” à Bruxelles est de mauvaise foi. On critique le second et vous vous défendez sur le premier... Ce n’est pas sain.

  • On 27 June 2006 at 22:01, by Daniela Replying to: For one seat for of the European Parliament : Strasbourg

    Who is “we” exactly?

  • On 28 June 2006 at 11:19, by Valéry-Xavier Lentz Replying to: For one seat for of the European Parliament : Strasbourg

    People from Strasbourg I guess

  • On 28 June 2006 at 18:56, by Emmanuel Replying to: For one seat for of the European Parliament : Strasbourg

    Oh, c’mon, dont shy away frm the truth! This isn’t only a local matter (in any case the local interests for Strasbourg are not stronger than those for Brussels).

    I know many people who are for the seat of the EP in Strasbourg only, and who have no connection whatsoever with this city. To name only a few who come to my mind: Berndt Posselt, a German EPP MEP, Toni Giuliano, President of JEF-UK, resident in Brussels, Maïté Abram, Director of the European Movement Belgium (both of the latter, of course not in their official capacity)...

    Many arguments against Strasbourg are perfectly relevant, so please do not use fallacious ones...

  • On 3 August 2006 at 10:40, by Pauline Lanon Replying to: For one seat for of the European Parliament : Strasbourg

    I totally agree with Anders. Knowing a few people who work at the EP, I can feel their pain when it comes to move all their working stuff to more or less 400 km for 4 days only. And the most logical seat for the EP is unquestionably Brussels, as the other institutions are in this city, which makes the communication within Europe much more efficient. Plus, being French myself, I deplore such a selfish and narrow-minded view to absolutely want the seat of the EP in Strasbourg, just because French people wouldn’t need to leave their beloved country. Why do we force other people to move to Strasbourg, which is not a central city at all ? It’s nothing but a mascarade, a waste of time, of money, of energy, which will kill our dear MEPs and others. Think about them ! To me this campaign is a very good initiative and I do hope it will reach its target.

  • On 18 September 2006 at 21:28, by Jan Ravenstijn Replying to: For one seat of the European Parliament - Brussels

    I’ve given you my vote for this proposal to go to one European seat and stop wasting money and energy. I’m sure that you can get millions of votes if only people knew about this initiative. Please think of ways to make this known to a much broader audience and make this voting site available in different languages. Success with your efforts.

  • On 13 May 2010 at 21:39, by Polish euro zealot Replying to: For one seat of the European Parliament - Brussels

    I cannot believe that we are wasting such an enormous amount of cash on unnecessary expenditure. We should spend the 200 million on building new hospitals, schools, infrastructure, R&D. The seat of the EP should be in Brussels due to the fact that the rest of the EU institutions have their seat there. I’m so disappointed becasue nationalism and self-interest are still prevalent in the European family. The Americans are preparing to go to Mars and we still cannot agree on simple things. Greetings from Poland my beloved Europeans!

  • On 14 May 2010 at 06:21, by Martina Latina Replying to: Pour le siège unique du Parlement européen à Strasbourg.

    Sachons en effet nous accorder sur l’essentiel : non pas tirer des plans sur la comète ou sur Mars, mais habiter l’Europe en la rendant plus juste, par une gouvernance économique et sociale, par une démocratie multipolaire avec l’exécutif à Bruxelles, le judiciaire à Luxembourg et le législatif à Strasbourg.

    Songeons enfin au bien commun des Européens pour développer la chance fraternelle qu’est la paix à l’échelle d’un continent, pour fédérer en une VASTE-VUE les forces vives inscrites dans notre nom trois fois millénaire d’EUROPE comme dans la Déclaration Schuman qui fête ce mois-ci ses soixante ans, même ou plutôt surtout s’il nous faut sortir chaque matin de la NUIT; car, loin d’être un mythe, la jeune Phénicienne EUROPE nous offre chaque jour le moyen réel de dissiper les ténèbres (indissociables de son nom sémitique) précisément par la puissance divine d’un TAURILLON qui la fit de force accoster en Crète, modifiant son appellation et fondant avec elle L’EUROPE grâce à deux inventions révolutionnaires : les techniques nautiques et alphabétiques toujours porteuses, tant pour nos communications que pour les civilisations...

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