HIGHEST MAJORITY EVER FOR A SINGLE SEAT

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Added: 24.10.2013

This week the European Parliament voted on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2014. The vote saw 507 (75% of MEPs) in favour of a Single Seat and just 143 against. See the text of paragraph 90 in red below.

CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEE REPORT ON SEAT ADOPTED

On 14 October, the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament took a major institutional step by voting 22-4 for the European Parliament to be able to decide where and when it meets. MEPs voted to adopt the key report by Ashley Fox (ECR, UK) and Gerald Häfner (Greens/EFA, Germany) with no abstentions.

The report, which seeks to invoke MEPs' new powers under Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty to propose treaty change, will be voted on by parliament as a whole at the November plenary session.

This latest development, along with complementary reports from the Petitions and Budget Committees, reflects the reality that France and Luxembourg would find it difficult to support a change in the Treaty, whereas MEPs are not so constrained.

MAIN POINTS FROM THE REPORT

  • Reflects the 2012 ECJ judgment on the Calendar Case reflecting disadvantages and costs of multiple EP location
  • That since 1958 the parliament has repeatedly asked to be sited alongside Council and Commission
  • Says that Strasbourg isolates the EP from Council, Commission, NGOs, civil society, Member State representations and the world’s largest media community
  • Responds to the 1.27 million citizens who signed the online One Seat petition
  • That the EP is now co-legislator with Council
  • That since Lisbon in 2009, inter-institutional meetings have risen by 150%, from 16,000 before to 40,000 in this parliament
  • That parliament’s calendar was fixed in 1992, before the treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon
  • That Council and European Council now meet in Brussels, not in national capitals
  • The additional cost of the EP’s dispersion is between €156M and €204M and between 11,000 Tonnes and 19,000 Tonnes of CO2 each year
  • That organisational self-determination is among a parliament’s foremost concerns
  • That the monthly migration between the EP’s HQ in Brussels and Strasbourg has become a symbolic negative issue among voters
  • Commits to initiate an ordinary legislative procedure under Art 48 to allow parliament to decide its Seat and internal organisation
  • Asks the Court of Auditors or similar agency to provide a comprehensive analysis of potential savings if parliament had one place of work
  • Calls for Eurobarometer or similar polling organisation to conduct a survey of EU citizens’ views by January 2014

SINGLE SEAT PLEDGE LAUNCHED

Members from the EPP, S&D, Green (Gerald Häfner also spoke) and ECR groups of the cross-party Single Seat campaign launched a Single Seat Pledge at a Press conference on Wednesday 16 October (right: they were joined by well-known anonymous blogger Captain Europe) to be signed by candidates standing for election in the May 2014 European Elections. The wording reads “If elected Member of the European Parliament in May 2014, I pledge to work for greater efficiency by demanding an end to the European Parliament's three working places arrangement, and giving it a logical Single Seat - in Brussels”.

The Pledge is part of the public campaign gaining momentum throughout the first half of 2014 and ensuring the issue stays on the agenda after the European Elections in May. Thanks to colleagues who took the floor. Please find a recording of the press conference attached.

MORE EU GOVERNMENTS VOICE THEIR SUPPORT FOR SINGLE SEAT 

Single Seat Steering Group member Edvard Kožušník (ECR, Czech Republic) has written to the leaders of all 28 EU Member States asking whether they would be willing to initiate and promote change by giving the European Parliament the right to decide its own Seat. Mr Kožušník has had positive responses from the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Croatia, among others whose positions are already known.  Single Seat will be following up on Mr Kožušník's initial contacts with EU Heads of Government by building a list of political ambassadors to take the case forward in their respective countries. 

PRO-STRASBOURG TASK FORCE TO HOLD EMERGENCY MEETING

The pro-Strasbourg task force launched by Alsatian MEP Catherine Trautmann (S&D, France) in June held an emergency meeting on Wednesday 23 October to regroup following the adoption of the Constitutional Affairs committee vote. France’s Europe Minister Thierry Repentin said the  Parliament should not get lost in "vain institutional quarrels" and Strasbourg’s mayor Roland Ries denounced the vote as "eurosceptic" and not in citizens' interests.

BRUSSELS TASK FORCE TO BE SET UP

Following the establishment of the Strasbourg Task Force, which has been allocated €50,000 by the French government to support its activities, a parallel cross-party Brussels Task Force is being set up by MEPs.  This will include elected cross-party Members from various levels of government, representatives of other Brussels-based EU bodies (Commission, Council, EEAS, Ecosoc, Committee of the Regions), the diplomatic community, civil society and the media.

STRASBOURG'S TRAVEL CONNECTIONS

Following a French air strike during the first October plenary in Strasbourg – despite the strike being called off in every other EU Member State – the City of Strasbourg is not improving travel links to EU capitals. There are now no direct flights between Strasbourg and Charles de Gaulle Airport and on a Thursday there are only four TGV train connections between Strasbourg and CDG airport, with waiting times as long as seven hours between certain options.

Source: www.SingleSeat.eu

Paragraph 90. Stresses that the European Parliament and the Council, in order to create long term savings in the EU budget, must address the need for a roadmap to a single seat, as stated in its previous resolutions, notably its resolutions of 23 October 2012 on the Council position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2013- all sections(8) and of 6 February 2013 on the guidelines for the 2014 budget procedure – sections other than the Commission(9) and its decision of 10 May 2012 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2010, Section I – European Parliament(10).

(8) Texts adopted P7_TA(2012)0359.
(9) Texts adopted P7_TA(2013)0048.
(10) O J 286, 17.10.2012, p.1.