The location of the seats of EU institutions
The European Parliament has two seats, one seat in Brussels, where votes are prepared, and another 435 km away in Strasbourg, where the votes are actually held. This is the result of a compromise reached when negotiating the European treaties.
Once a month, all Members of European Parliament (MEPs), their assistants and some of the Parliament's administrative staff, including all their documents, travel from Brussels to Strasbourg and back again. The associated logistics effort costs between €156 million and €204 million a year and cause the emission of 200,000 tonnes of CO2.
Paradoxically, almost all MEPs want Parliament to have just one seat, in Brussels. However, France wants to retain Strasbourg's parliamentary role.
The Greens led an initiative designed to give Parliament the power to decide on its workplace.
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens maintain that the European Parliament’s two-seat operation is logistically inefficient, financially absurd, environmentally catastrophic and utterly undemocratic.
Furthermore, we argue that Parliament cannot properly exercise its democratic role while in Strasbourg, since the European Council, European Commission, representatives of the Member States and civil society organisations and the EU press corps all remain in Brussels. Many small NGOs lack the financial resources to travel to Strasbourg and back every month, which leaves the field open to corporate amply funded lobbyists.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
The Greens are satisfied with the report, which expresses a long-standing demand on the part of most MEPs.
It was the first time that MEPs had called for the European Parliament to be allowed to decide on its own place of work and use its powers to initiate a procedure to amend the European treaties in this respect.
Which points did the Greens lose?
For Brussels to become the unitary seat of the European Parliament, the Commission would need to issue a legislative proposal to this effect. Then, Parliament and the European Council would have to agree on a text. But France has yet to make any indication that it would be amenable to any such proposal in the Council, and the prospect of a French veto has prevented the Commission from proposing any legislation on this issue.
Lead MEP:Gerald Häfner (GREENS/EFA), Ashley Fox (ECR)
Green MEP responsible:Gerald Häfner
Staff contact:Guillaume Sellier (Email)