The campaign to end the European Parliament's second seat is being led in the East of England by Conservative MEP Vicky Ford. She is urging people to follow Stephen Metcalfe MP's lead and sign the e-petition "Stop the Strasbourg Circus".
Every month the entire European Parliament relocates from Brussels to Strasbourg for a week of plenary voting sessions, meaning thousands of MEPs, staff, translators, journalists and lobbyists make the journey, along with 25 trucks carrying 4,000 trunks filled with MEPs papers. This monthly exercise costs the taxpayer around €200 million per year as well as causing approximately 20,000 tonnes of unnecessary CO2 to be emitted. In addition to this, the buildings in Strasbourg cost approximately €457 million, plus heating and lighting bills for buildings which are left largely unused for around 300 days per year.
The EU treaties state that the European Parliament must meet in Strasbourg 12 times a year. There is increasing support amongst MEPs, who just last month voted 4 to 1 to changing the rules and holding all sessions in Brussels, but the change needs the agreement of governments from all 27 member states of the European Council. Mr Fox and Mrs Ford have launched an online petition asking the Prime Minister to demand a change in European law so that the European Parliament need only meet in one place.
Mrs. Ford explains "At a time when national governments and local councils are having to cut budgets and families are all feeling the pinch, it is absurd that so much taxpayers money is wasted on the travelling circus between Brussels and Strasbourg. I would urge everybody to sign the petition, and to tell as many people as possible about it so that we can try and get this item on the agenda. The EU is currently negotiating a 7 year budget and if this does not get put on the table during those negotiations then the travelling circus will be destined to continue for many more years."