The average Englishman will tell you three things about the EU: they ban straight bananas, their accounts have never been satisfactorily audited, and MEPs waste a fortune moving between Brussels and Strasbourg each month.
There is more truth to the first two assertions than the Europhiles like to admit. But the third count against the EU is undeniable. The cost of moving 751 MEPs and their staff 270 miles south for four days each month is estimated at up to €200 million. Only a few, with vested interest or hermetically sealed in the EU bubble, seek to defend keeping a building the size of a large hotel or small university staffed and available for just 48 days a year. During this October’s debate on the EU budget the Parliament itself (again) voted to end this wate.
French President François Hollande (unsurprisingly) defends Strasbourg, on the French-German border, as a symbol of reconciliation after a century of war between those countries: “It is history that teaches us the role Strasbourg has to play. Strasbourg is both the history and the future of Europe.”
Strasbourg is a beautiful (if expensive) city with medieval and renaissance buildings and a splendid gothic cathedral. There are fine restaurants (supported by the monthly influx of EU expense accounts), offering excellent Alsatian cuisine washed down with the local pinot noir, served lightly chilled. But President Hollande is right. Strasbourg is a symbol. Unfortunately it has become a symbol of the waste and boondoggle politics that are so typical of the EU institutions.
It is in the EU’s interest to resolve this issue and bring to an end a circus that is so damaging to its credibility.