Thursday, February 10, 2011

Look, it really doesn't matter how many reports you produce

Thanks to my daily e-mail from Open Europe I find that there is another time-wasting very important report in existence that proves at great length that it is a waste of time, money, energy and good will on everybody's part for the European Parliament to have sessions in Strasbourg as well as Brussels.

There are two main problems with all these reports. No, make that three because the first and most obvious one is that it is a waste of everybody's time, money and energy to keep producing reports of no significance whatsoever simply to justify an MEP's, his staff's and the Brusssels-Strasbourg Study Group's existences and the funds allocated to them.

Secondly, to argue that there is something wrong with the European Parliament having two seats is to suggest that if that noxious organization did not ever leave Brussels it would be something to love and admire. Wrong, ladies and gentlemen, especially of Open Europe and other organizations who periodically campaign for getting rid of the Strasbourg sessions: the European Parliament has no justification whatsoever, regardless of how many seats it has. Even one seat and set of luxurious offices is too many.

Thirdly, all these campaigns tend to forget that the Strasbourg session and all that it implies are written into the treaties. The provision, always in existence in practice, made its way into theory in the Treaty of Amsterdam as it had been agreed at the European Council at Edinburgh in 1992. Here is what Protocol 8 says
(a) The European Parliament shall have its seat in Strasbourg where the 12 periods of monthly plenary sessions, including the budget session, shall be held. The periods of additional plenary sessions shall be held in Brussels. The committees of the European Parliament shall meet in Brussels. The General Secretariat of the European Parliament and its departments shall remain in Luxembourg.
See? Nor has that Protocol been deleted from subsequent treaties. It is still there in the Treaty of Lisbon and the Consolidated Treaties, to all intents and purposes the real and present constitution of this country and of all EU member states. Protocol 6 on page 265 repeats the text above. So, the geographically dual parliamentary procedure is part of the treaty and can be changed only through a change of the Consolidated Treaties, which would require unanimity. What are the chances of France agreeing? I think it might be easier to shut down the European Parliament altogether.

ADDENDUM: Edward McMillan-Scott thinks the monthly sojourn in Strasbourg induces stress-related problems in MEPs and the Parliament's staff. Well, diddums!

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