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Policy Focus

MEPs insist EU parliament one-seat campaign 'goes on'

MEPs have voiced disappointment at the outcome of latest efforts to axe Strasbourg as one of parliament’s official seats.

A written declaration calling for an end to the assembly’s split-site arrangement fell well short of the target required for it to have a chance of becoming official EU policy.

Supporters needed 393 deputies to sign the declaration but last Thursday’s deadline passed with only 286 having put their names to it.

Belgian ALDE deputy Frederique Ries, a member of the Campaign for Parliamentary Reform, the group behind the declaration, which was launched three months ago, said she was “very disappointed” at the outcome.

She told this website, “It is not, to be honest, entirely surprising as we thought we were heading towards defeat.

“There were strong indications that MEPs were acting on very strict orders not to support the declaration which had been issued by the leaders of the political groups.

“Another factor is that the declaration was not timed very well with us having at the time a French presidency of the EU, a French leader of the EPP group and German leader of the Socialists and a German president of parliament.

“The fact is that France and Germany as well as Luxembourg generally support Strasbourg hosting parliament.”

She added, “It is rather heartbreaking and we could not have done much more to get members to sign the declaration.

“However, we will not give up and the fight goes on.”

In a reference to moves last year by parliament's ushers to remove pro-one seat posters from outside the hemicycle in Brussels, her party colleague, Alexander Alvaro said,"We clearly did not get the support we needed but this is down to opposition from within parliament. However, we will continue to campaign against the twin-seat arrangement."

Further reaction came from the Mayor of Strasbourg Roland Ries who said the fact that the declaration fell so short of its target suggests that parliament should now consider moving its whole operation to his city.

Roland Ries, who is also French spokesperson for the city’s European district, added, “ “I want to welcome the wisdom of the parliamentarians, who once again demonstrated how much they knew not to mix up the issues all together and the decision-making processes”.

“I do understand those who would like the parliament to work in a single location. After the rejection of this declaration, it would now be logical that MEPs call for all activities to be brought together in our city, as it was suggested by French prime minister François Fillon in May 2008.”

Mon 19th Jan 2009

Martin Banks

Related Forums

"We will not give up and the fight goes on"

Frederique Ries

"After the rejection of this declaration, it would now be logical that MEPs call for all activities to be brought together in our city, as it was suggested by French prime minister François Fillon in May 2008"

Mayor of Strasbourg Roland Ries

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