Tuesday

9th Aug 2022

Commissioner Wallstrom backs anti-Strasbourg seat campaign

  • "Maybe with a new French president can a process start with constructive discussions" (Photo: European Commission)

EU communications commissioner Margot Wallstrom has supported calls for an end to the European Parliament's second seat in Strasbourg.

Ms Wallstrom, who is at the forefront of the European commission's efforts to reconnect to the European public, runs a weblog which she used last week to speak out against the parliament's Strasbourg seat.

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"It ought to be the European Parliament who decides where they should meet! One can understand and respect the historical background for choosing Strasbourg as the location for the European Parliament – but today the practical problems – and costs! – connected with having two sites is overshadowing the symbolic value of it," she wrote.

Calls for closure of the parliament's Strasbourg buildings have recently gained ground following accusations that the city of Strasbourg overcharged the parliament by €2.7 million a year for the last 25 years.

But the official seat of the parliament in Strasbourg has been enshrined in the EU treaty since 1992, and Paris considers the location as a symbol of Franco-German reconciliation and a matter of national prestige.

Ms Wallstrom wrote "Maybe, maybe with a new French president can a process start with constructive discussions also about "compensation" in case the EP would choose to meet only in Brussels in the future…?"

'Not the official commission line'

Reacting to the comments, Johannes Laitenberger, chief commission spokesman, indicated that the commissioner's remarks do not represent the official commission line on the matter.

"Any comment Commissioner Wallstrom has made ... has been made by the commissioner personally," Mr Laitenberger said.

"Every member of the commission can make his personal comments despite institutional obligations," he added.

Mr Laitenberger stressed that the Strasbourg seat is enshrined in the EU treaty and any changes would require unanimous agreement by EU leaders.

"The commission is clear; this is in the treaty and can only be changed by unanimity, it is a question of the council and parliament", he said.

Petition

A group of MEPs, led by Swedish liberal Cecilia Malmstrom, has already launched a website where citizens can sign a petition demanding the parliament be located in Brussels only.

The commissioner expressed her sympathy with the initiative, writing "There is a petition "oneseat.eu" going on right now – I see the address has been posted also in the Debate Europe site – with the aim of collecting one million signatures. Judging from the most common public reaction to this issue that might be possible…"

Almost 400,000 people had signed the Oneseat.eu petition on Thursday (1 June).

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