Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

MEPs suggest Van Rompuy shift EU summits to Strasbourg

  • The Strasbourg cathedral. Some MEPs appear to be unmoved by its charm (Photo: EUobserver)

Keen to end to their monthly jaunts to the French city of Strasbourg, a group of MEPs have suggested that European Council President Herman Van Rompuy hold his summits there instead.

The idea is one of several contained in a paper published this week by a cross-party group of euro-deputies, whose task is to find an acceptable means of moving parliament's plenary sessions to Brussels where the bulk of its committee work is currently carried out.

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.

A recent poll suggested as many as 90 percent of MEPs favour the switch from Strasbourg, dubbed 'Stressbourg', but France is bitterly opposed, concerned that the exodus of bon vivant parliamentarians will hurt the city's many restaurants and hotels. The Strasbourg School of Management has put the cost of the parliament leaving at €200 million a year.

Paris says EU treaty rules are on its side, issuing a resounding 'non' when MEPs voted last month to merge two plenary sessions into the same October week in both 2012 and 2013, in a bid to cut down on the costs and annoyances of the infamous traveling circus.

French minister for European Affairs Laurent Wauquiez told the MEPs he would see them in the European Court of Justice, another EU institution targeted by the euro-deputies as they try to provide the veto-holding French with an attractive source of alternative revenue.

The report's authors suggest "creating a European City of Justice by moving the European Court of Justice (and possibly justice-related agencies such as Europol and Eurojust) to Strasbourg."

"This would complement the Court of Human Rights, especially now that the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights has added 'internal' competence, as well as the EU's Ombudsman, whose modest office is based in Strasbourg."

Other options include shunting the little talked-about European Committee of the Regions out of its shiny Jacques Delors building in Brussels and sending them south, with France's rejoining of Nato also enabling a potential relocation of the military alliance's headquarters.

"This is less likely now that Nato has embarked upon a €800 million building project in Brussels," concede the MEPs.

A further suggestion talks about setting up a diplomatic training college for European external action service (EEAS) officials in Strasbourg, where "proximity to the Council of Europe should also create useful synergies for EU diplomats."

The ideas are likely to prove unpopular with the other EU institutions however, with a spokesman for Van Rompuy simply noting that all 27 member states would need to agree before he shifted his non-smoking summit dinners to France.

An official from the Committee of the Regions also said his institution was strongly opposed to any relocation.

"We are definitely against it," he told this website. "The members of the committee come to Brussels only five times a year, and it's key that they have good access to other EU officials when they do."

"Also the budgets of the two institutions are totally different."

British MEP Ashley Fox calls the commute a 'traveling circus'

EUOBSERVER / EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, BRUSSELS (17 March 2011) British MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists Ashley Fox wants to see an end to the European Parliament's monthly commute to Strasbourg.

Watch more EUobserver videos here

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.

Terror attack shuts down UK parliament

[Updated] Westminster, and its surrounding areas, has been sealed off after a car drove into several people and one policeman was stabbed. At least three people have been killed.

La présidentielle française sous cyber-alerte maximale

Le président francais Francois Hollande a mobilisé "tous les moyens nécessaires" pour contrer d'éventuelle cyber-attaques avant l'election présidentielle d'avril et mai. Mais les partis politiques restent vulnérables.

EU doing well in global energy ranking

The majority of countries in the top-20 of the Global Energy Architecture Performance Index are members of the European Union, with Switzerland leading the list.

News in Brief

  1. Russia invites EU diplomats to occupied Crimea
  2. UK parliament in lockdown after reported attack
  3. Brussels attacks remembered with minute of silence and noise
  4. Magnitsky's lawyer injured near Moscow
  5. Trump to travel to Brussels on 25 May for Nato summit
  6. Polish defence minister accuses Tusk of treason
  7. Fillon slips in polls as new allegations emerge
  8. Brexit summit for EU-27 will be on 29 April

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Advertisements
  2. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  3. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  4. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  6. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  7. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  8. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  9. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  10. Malta EU 2017Consumer Protection Laws to Be Strengthened by EU-Wide Cooperation
  11. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted
  12. UNICEFSyria Conflict 6 Years On: Children's Suffering at Its Worst

Latest News

  1. EU declaration to voice unity in troubled times
  2. Terror attack shuts down UK parliament
  3. Catalonia and Scotland at core of Europe's geopolitical conundrum
  4. La présidentielle française sous cyber-alerte maximale
  5. EU doing well in global energy ranking
  6. Child migrants endure 'abysmal conditions'
  7. French socialist woos Europe with new vision
  8. EU to Macedonia: 'Stop playing with fire'