Mr McMillan-Scott, MEP for 29 years is the main spokesperson of the powerful lobby OneSeat, which only exists to challenge the seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg and advocate a “Single Seat” in Brussels.
In attempts to convince, promoters of this campaign do not shy away from any approximation, accumulating fabrications and contradictions:
1. The « Single Seat » in Strasbourg is a reality since 1952, as have confirmed the successive European treaties up to the Lisbon treaty in 2009. The Court of Justice of the European Union reminded the European Parliament in its judgment of the 13 December 2012 compelling it to re-establish the agenda of twelve plenary sessions in Strasbourg, starting 2014.
2. The supporters of regrouping all institutions in Brussels make the choice to deliver a centralized and bureaucratic image of Europe, removed from its citizens. The opponents of Strasbourg challenge the principle of geographic diversity of the European Institutions, which until now has been a key factor for proximity with European citizens.
3. The campaign against Strasbourg undermines the authority and the image of the European Parliament. By criticizing the European Parliament’s organization, the opponents of Strasbourg are delivering a negative image of the most democratic institution in the European Union, instead of capitalising on its importance and on the results of its parliamentary work carried out, in particular, in Strasbourg.
4. The campaign against Strasbourg fuels anti-European feelings and strengthens arguments of Eurosceptics and Europhobics. Through the dissemination of truncated information, in particular on the real cost of the seat and its environmental impact, the opponents of Strasbourg provide arguments to the opponents of European integration. At the beginning of the 2014 election campaign, they encourage unjustified criticism against a Europe presented as being inefficient, useless and wasting taxpayer’s money.
5. To modify the organization of the seat would require the renegotiation of the treaties. This decision has to be unanimous and is the exclusive prerogative of the member states of the European Union. certain would like to review the seats of all EU institutions. Such a process, which no member state has asked for, is not appropriate in a time when Europe has to face major challenges.
6. The real financial cost of the seat in Strasbourg amounts for 51,5 million Euros per year – according to our report “Le siege dans tous ses Etats” (February 2012). Ignoring these figures that have been confirmed by two budgetary reports of the Secretary General of the European Parliament, the opponents of Strasbourg continue to spread in the media, as a principal argument, truncated estimations of 180 millions Euros, following the report of M. McMillan-Scott.
7. The carbon footprint of the Strasbourg’s seat was 3250 tons of CO2 per year in 2011, as confirmed in the last “déclaration environnementale du Parlement européen”, six times less than the fabricated estimation presented in Mr .McMillan-Scott’s report (19000 tons of CO2). All the measures taken since 2006 gave a total reduction of 66% of Strasbourg’s carbon footprint and make the seat the most ecological of the buildings of the European Parliament.
8. Strasbourg’s accessibility is regularly improving. By train, travel times are reducing regularly. By plane, 15 new service lines have been established since January 2012 at Strasbourg-Entzheim airport and other ones are being developed (6 new low cost airlines versus none in January 2012). 2012 was marked by the competitive repositioning of the airport in comparison to its competitors (adjustment of taxes and operation costs). Furthermore, in 2012 the airport showed a growth of traffic of 15% just five months since the repositioning (1 August 2012). The whole traffic network is growing, primarily due to growth in European traffic (tendency of more than 30%).
9. The supposed lack of comfort of travel to Strasbourg is not an argument: MEPs often travel voluntarily throughout all the European Union states, especially for commission and political group meetings. They demontrate their vocation as elected MEPs by meeting and representing the European citizens outside of Brussels; as they do when they go to Strasbourg once a month to attend the plenary sessions.
10. The opponents of Strasbourg refuse to reveal the extent of the cost of a potential relocation to Brussels: There would be huge political, social (transfer of thousands of jobs) and financial costs (investment and installation). In addition, the European Parliament, as owner of the buildings in Strasbourg and Luxembourg, would have to continue to pay the costs for their maintenance, reducing any hypothetical savings to nothing.
The AEJE is convinced that European citizens expect their MEPs to provide impetus and take fundamental decisions to resolve the current crisis, and to revive the European Union, rather than to debate about their place of work and conditions.
The AEJE Team