Wednesday

22nd Feb 2017

Strasbourg travelling circus must go on, says EU court advisor

  • MEPs want to end the monthly trek to Strasbourg (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Court of Justice was accused of being out of touch after its top advisor insisted that the European Parliament could not scrap its monthly plenary sessions in Strasbourg.

In a legal opinion issued on Thursday (6 September) the Court's Advocate General Paolo Mengozzi stated that existing case law demanded the continuation of twelve sessions per year. Although the opinion is not legally binding, Advocate General opinions are usually endorsed by the Luxembourg-based court.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In March 2011, MEPs amended their calendar to scrap plenary sessions scheduled for October 2012 and 2013 by merging two sessions into one week. In response, the French government, supported by Luxembourg, which also hosts Parliament offices, called on the Court to overturn the Parliament's decision claiming that they were in breach of the treaties.

Mengozzi claimed that the Parliament's legal team had failed to justify its changes its calendar in what he described as a move to "artificially split into two" the October session.

The EU treaties require the Parliament to hold twelve plenary sessions in Strasbourg, under a protocol agreed in 1992 at the EU summit in Edinburgh chaired by John Major, a former UK Prime Minister.

However, the cross-party single seat group of MEPs, which campaigns for the Parliament to have all plenary sessions in Brussels, has sought to find ways to minimise the Strasbourg sessions. Supporters of the single seat campaign say that the Strasbourg sessions are expensive, with research indicating an annual cost of over €200 million per year.

Others claim that the monthly trek, which sees MEPs and officials uprooted from their Brussels offices, damages both the environment the public perception of the Parliament.

British Conservative Ashley Fox, one of the MEPs to table amendments to the calendar, accused the Court of being "completely out of touch" and making "a warped interpretation of EU treaties."

Meanwhile, Rebecca Harms, co-leader of the Green MEPs said that Mengozzi's position was “at odds with legal advice given to MEPs ... so there is hope that the ECJ will not follow today's recommendation."

She also called on governments to re-open debate on the issue, adding that "the taboo on the EP's senseless seat arrangement must be ended."

However, others saw reason to be encouraged.

They take heart in the fact that Mengozzi asked for the parliamentary calendar as a whole to be examined.

In July 2012, MEPs voted 432–218 for a single seat. Parliament President Martin Schulz is among the most prominent supporters of retaining the Strasbourg sessions.

MEPs tell Buzek to seek end to Strasbourg seat

MEPs have called for a meeting with EU leaders to discuss the scrapping of parliament's Strasbourg and Luxembourg seats, also opting to delay their approval of the Council of Ministers' 2009 budget until later this year.

Analysis

When two become one - the Strasbourg super-session

Thousands of EU officials will return to Brussels wearier than usual on Friday but, on balance, will probably be grateful for a Parliament decision that saved them from another round-trip.

EU court backs France over €200m Strasbourg sessions

The European Court of Justice has backed the French government in its dispute with the European Parliament over the much maligned Strasbourg plenary sessions, ruling that the assembly had breached treaty requirements for twelve plenary sessions per year.

EU commission drops anti-corruption report

Transparency campaigners are livid after the EU commission scuppered plans to publish an EU anti-corruption report amid unfolding corruption scandals in Romania and France.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  2. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  3. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  4. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  5. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  6. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  7. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  8. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  2. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  3. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  4. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  8. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  10. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  11. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  12. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"

Latest News

  1. Should Europeans spend more on defence?
  2. Dieselgate: EU disappointed with VW's treatment of customers
  3. French police raid Le Pen's party office
  4. The Armenia-Azerbaijan war: A refugee's story
  5. Greece and creditors break bailout deadlock
  6. Internal EU report exposes Libya turmoil
  7. EU commissioner condemns 'delay' in post-Dieselgate reform
  8. Sweden fights back as foreign leaders make up bad news