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MEPs expose huge climate cost of Parliament’s ‘travelling circus’

This article is inspired by an article by EURACTIV

Green MEPs, backed by UK Conservatives, have fired up the debate on the Parliament’s two seats with an expert study which exposes the huge environmental cost of having plenary sessions in Brussels and Strasbourg. Meanwhile, MEPs voted to set up a special committee on climate change.


The study ‘European Parliament two-seat operation: environmental costs, transport & energy’ was presented by Green MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert on 25 April in Strasbourg. It was researched by Professor John Whitelegg of the Stockholm Environment Institute.


Having two “seats” produces an extra 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, according to the study. Moreover, the energy costs for transport and buildings are huge. This environmental burden comes on top of the already high cost for the European taxpayer (€200m per year) of holding plenary four-day sessions once a month in Strasbourg. The Green MEPs urge the EU to “show environmental leadership” and “close the Strasbourg building immediately in order to ‘put its own house in order'”. 


The report was backed by UK Conservatives.

     Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Conservative Leader in the European Parliament, said: “Having a second Parliamentary seat effectively means pouring millions of pounds paid by British taxpayers down the plughole and such nonsense destroys voters’ trust in the EU. To be voting on environmental issues when we continue to have to uproot every month with thousands of extra road, rail and plane journeys is nothing short of ridiculous.”

The last agreement on the location of the two seats of the European Parliament dates back from 1992 and is part of an intricate political compromise between the member states of the Union. It is therefore a very difficult situation to change, despite the validity of some of the arguments against the two-seats arrangement. 


In 2006, a group of MEPs launched a ‘One Seat’ campaign to try and end the monthly sessions in Strasbourg, but with little success.

Meanwhile, Parliament backed a proposal on 25 April to set up a temporary committee on climate change. With 60 members appointed for one year, the committee will formulate proposals on the EU’s climate-change policy and hold hearings with decision-makers and scientists from around the world. It will provide “detailed analysis” on recent advances and future prospects in combating climate change, accompanied by an assessment of both their financial impact and the costs of inaction.

Who gets the €200 million?