21st September 2012
I have launched an e-petition to end the ridiculous "travelling circus" that sees the European Parliament shuttling back and forth between Brussels and Strasbourg on a monthly basis. This costs taxpayers millions of pounds and needlessly pumps tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.
This wasteful madness has to stop. However, there are powerful vested interests wanting to keep the whole costly farce going. Therefore we need our own Government to take action. That is why I have launched this petition.
Most of the European Parliament's work is done at its huge complex of offices and debating chambers in Brussels, but once a month 754 MEPs, 3,000 staff and 25 trucks carrying documents and equipment all decamp to Strasbourg in France.
The e-petition - at www.stopthestrasbourgcircus.com - aims to persuade the UK Government to intervene on this key issue by pressing the European Council to ditch the dual-seat farce. Earlier this year the European Parliament voted by 429 MEPs to 184 to call for a single seat. There is vocal and growing majority in the Parliament to stop the yoyo travel schedule - but that will need a treaty change.
Such a move would require a unanimous decision of the European Council - the gathering of leaders from all the EU member states.
We need the British Government to table a proposal demanding a change in European law to allow us to meet in only one place.
Last year the so-called Fox Amendment reduced the number of trips to Strasbourg this year from 12 to 11 by amending the diary to put two separate plenary sessions into one week in October. However, both France and Luxembourg - foremost among the "vested interests" mentioned earlier - have appealed to the European Court of Justice to have even this small reform overturned as "unlawful".
The European Parliament is the only assembly in the world that cannot decide where it sits. The financial cost of the two-seat system stands at €200m a year. With 20,000 tonnes of CO2 being pumped needlessly into the atmosphere every year.
I have not met a single, ordinary member of the public who can understand why this ridiculous situation ever came about in the first place, still less why we can't just stop it. Now those citizens can do themselves a favour by logging onto the petition and sending a clear message to Whitehall, as well as to Brussels, that enough is enough.