20th February 2013
A British Conservative MEP has been chosen to spearhead the fight by Euro-MPs to stop the Parliament's so-called travelling circus of meetings switching between Brussels and Strasbourg.
Senior members of the Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee yesterday appointed Ashley Fox as one of two "rapporteurs", or authors, on the controversial issue of where the Parliament should sit. He will share the task of drafting the report on the issue with a German Green MEP, Gerald Hafner.
Appointing co-rapporteurs for a Parliamentary report is unusual and done to signify the importance that Parliament attaches to the subject matter of the report.
Mr Fox, Conservative MEP for the South West of England & Gibraltar, has been a leading voice in the campaign to halt the monthly rigmarole of the entire Parliament and support staff decamping from Belgium to France for plenary sessions.
The wasteful process costs taxpayers millions of pounds and needlessly pumps tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A series of votes by MEPs has shown an increasing majority in favour of scrapping the twin-seat arrangement, although it is currently enshrined in the EU treaties.
Today Mr Fox said: "I am honoured to have been chosen to lead the work on this important report. The Parliament will never claim any credibility for responsible handling of taxpayers' money until this waste is stopped.
"Strasbourg was a symbol of peace when the EU was formed in 1958. Now it is a symbol of all that is wrong with Europe. I want to build on the growing consensus in Parliament that we need to change the European treaties. I think the European Parliament should have one seat and that the European Parliament should decide where that is."
In addition to his own work through the Constitutional Affairs Committee to draft the proposed treaty amendments, Ashley Fox also believes campaigners should work within their member states to persuade their own governments to support treaty change in the European Council.
In the UK, Mr Fox has launched a fast-growing E-petition to persuade the British Government to intervene http://www.stopthestrasbourgcircus.com/
The cost of the two-seat system is €200m annually, with 20,000 tonnes of CO2 being pumped needlessly into the atmosphere every year.
Mr Fox said: "Ordinary members of the public find it incredible that we are locked into this ridiculous arrangement that MEPs cannot make their own decisions about where they meet and how much it costs the poor old taxpayer. Through authoring this report, I hope to help the Parliament steer the way to a saner way of doing things."