European Voice (25 October and 31 October) has highlighted the consistent and now overwhelming demand by MEPs to have a single seat for the European Parliament, especially against the current economic backdrop. The vote on 23 October on the Parliament's own 2013 budget – when 75% of MEPs backed a single seat – means the European Council must address this issue. We have set a deadline of June 2013 for the Council to join us in elaborating a practical roadmap for reform.
The cases brought in the European Court of Justice against our decision to modify our calendar – holding two Strasbourg sessions in one week in October – will be decided on 13 December. Whatever the outcome, the ultimate decision about the “global coherence” of these arrangements, invited by the advocate-general's September opinion will be taken by governments and the European Parliament. We want to decide where and when we meet, and that requires treaty change.
A similar majority of MEPs voted on the same day (67%) to raise the issue in the negotiations on the EU's multiannual financial framework (MFF) this week in Brussels.
It is indefensible that the EU can waste €1.2 billion (according to official estimates) on maintaining multiple locations of the Parliament for another seven years. The ‘travelling circus' imposed on us by governments also does serious harm to the image of the European Parliament and the EU as a whole.
The monthly trek to Strasbourg, plus the cost of keeping our administrative staff in Luxembourg, costs €180 million and 19,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. When the Parliament is 400km away in Strasbourg it cannot fully
exercise its scrutiny, control and co-legislation functions. The Commission, Council and the European External Action Service are all Brussels-based, as are all EU-related diplomats, trade associations, and NGOs.
MEPs want change. Our staff want change. Citizens want change, as shown by the 1.27 million Europeans who have so far signed the One Seat petition calling for the Parliament to be based only in Brussels. We must consider how all this will look in the 2014 European Parliament elections.
Strasbourg was a symbol of reunification, but is now a symbol of waste and inefficiency. A constructive debate needs to start about its future role, but the European Parliament needs to be permanently in the political capital of the European Union: Brussels.
Edward McMillan-Scott MEP
Alexander Alvaro MEP