No Home From Home

2 minute read

When European commission President José Manuel Barroso declared that the E.U. needs an institute of technology, a group of M.E.P.s piped up with an idea for the perfect spot: their on-off home, the European Parliament complex in Strasbourg.

Their motives are both altruistic and self-serving. Since the mid-90s, parliament has shuttled monthly between Brussels and Strasbourg — at a cost of €200 million a year. The Campaign for Parliamentary Reform (CPR) argues that money is wasted.

The French disagree. “I’ve always voted to keep the seat here because it’s an important European symbol,” says M.E.P. Christine de Veyrac of France’s center-right UMP Party. And the city itself invokes the 1997 treaty that calls for it to host 12 annual plenary meetings. “The arguments by the adversaries of Strasbourg are very ignorant of European reality,” claims Mayor Fabienne Keller’s office. Still, according to an internal E.U. website poll, 7 out of 10 M.E.P.s and their staff favor making Brussels Parliament’s sole base.

Even so, CPR chairman Alexander Alvaro likens his group’s efforts to “the trickle of raindrops on a rock that eventually makes a hole.” At that rate, M.E.P.s will commute — and the E.U. will wait for its institute — for a long time indeed.

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