Thursday, 26 April 2007

We're all Greens Now

The European Parliament is in the news for once. Not because of what it's done, ironically, but of what it has failed to do. The world's most progressive environmental legislature suffers from the embarrassing position of being the most polluting assembly in the world, emitting 20,000 tonnes of CO2 at the cost of 200 Million Euros annually to the taxpayer.

While some Liberal Democrat MEPs had taken action against the latter disgrace with the One Seat EU campaign (see to add your support - they've already got their million signatures, but it's proved so popular with out-of-pocket citizens they're extending it) the former had not been seriously addressed until this year.
However, now that the world and his wife has jumped on the Climate Change bandwagon - including the EPs new President, despite a reputed preference for high-emittence Vorsprung durch Technik - things are starting to change and an overwhelming majority of MEPs recently voted in favour of a ‘carbon-free’ European Parliament (the Morgan report). This week's publication of a York University study on the environmental costs of the monthly Travelling Circus (see Earthquake Cove: The world's most polluting parliament) will cause the Strasbourg fiasco to rise even further up the agenda.
The French, as ever, are the main blocking forces to progress because they have threatened to veto any attempt to move the Parliament to Brussels on a permanent basis. EU rules state that no changes to the Treaties can be made without unanimity. And of course, the first thing the French got round to putting in the Treaty, when they were still an influential nation back in the 1950s , was that the Parliament should be located in Strasbourg. Changing the current set up, would require the French to vote against their own parliament (and considering they keep selling big buildings and bits of land to expand the complex for 1 euro a piece, it doesnt look like they've changed their mind on that front).

Voila le probleme, as they say in these parts. If we really want to change this situation we - as citizens - must start to make a real fuss and force our representatives to do something about it. Most importantly, if given the chance, we must be prepared to vote for an EU constitution which would move us towards a system of qualified majority voting that could break the French monopoly on the question.
However I have an alternative solution which wouldn't upset the French (and staring out my office window in Strasbourg, looking out on to the river, the Orangerie, and the beautiful city beyond) doesn't seem so bad to me either). We should, in fact, move the whole operation from Brussels to France! See

Now that's good thinking.

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