Greetings to all readers!
After years of blogging in Polish and French, I have decided to also start a blog in English. This being my first post in this blog, I decided to address a current issue relevant to the financial climate in the European Parliament.
I am a Member of European Parliament with the S&D Group, representing Poland since 2004. In addition to my work in the Budgets and Legal Affairs Committees, I am also a Quaestor and a member of the European Parliament Bureau.
While in the future I will report to you on various issues concerning my work, and state of affairs in the Parliament, today I would like to blog about the paradox of having three working places of the European Parliament.
Those of you who follow EU affairs know that the European Treaties place the working place of the European Parliament in three cities: committee meetings are held in Brussels, (Belgium); 12 plenary sessions are held in Strasbourg (France) and Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) is the official working place of EP staff.
The following link will give you the background to the three working places and the campaign calling for one seat in Brussels: http://www.singleseat.eu/
I will avoid speaking about the history of the three seats, and instead bring you some plain facts:
- Each year we are spending €180 million on the 12 monthly sessions to Strasbourg.
- The annual costs of running the building in Luxembourg is estimated to be €45 million. Furthermore the Parliament now faces the decision to build a new building in Luxembourg, estimated to cost €804 million, and serving few more than 6000 persons in the future.
- Lastly, the environmental costs of the travelling amounts to over 19,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. The adoption of a single Seat in Brussels would be in line with the Parliament’s plan to reduce its carbon “footprint” by 30% by 2020.
While these figures are partial they represent unnecessary spending that MEPs have protested against for years. Because of the objection of the Council (comprised by representatives of the Member States), our voice went unheard or discharged by making reference to EU treaties.
However, most recently MEPs efforts have started bearing fruit in a series of successful plenary votes we had on the topic.
The most significant one took place on 29 March with a vote on the European Parliament estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2013. The final text included an amendment I submitted calling for one seat for European Parliament Members and staff. The amendment was approved, for the first time, by an overwhelming majority of 429 members. (184 votes against and 37 abstentions).
Just to highlight, up to 29 March, all of our attempts to introduce such reference were unsuccessful.
On May 10 we marked another small success voting on the Discharge report of the European Parliament for the financial year 2010. This report examines how the Parliament’s budget was implemented in 2010 and where we could make real savings.
In this context the report points out the costs from having three working places. For example, security of the three buildings amounted to over €45.5 million (between 2009 and 2010); Building maintenance, upkeep, operation and cleaning stood at a total amount of €38.7 million. Furthermore, in 2010 there were 33,200 official missions of staff members travelling between the three working places; this represents 98,629 mission days with an estimated cost of €30 million
The figures above accumulate to €114.2 million. While this sum represents only a minor fragment of the total costs of having three working places, it also provides a clear indication of the significant savings we can achieve if we reduce the number of working places.
Maintaining the momentum gained with these last plenary votes is the only way for us, as Members of European Parliament, to decide on the location of our working place.
The way ahead to achieving this goal is still long, but we are certainly making good progress forward.
Kind greetings from Brussels!
Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg
Links to my previous articles on the issue of a single seat:
More information is available on my website: http://www.lgeringer.pl/