Strasbourg EPNo, I’m not losing my mind. Dutch PM Jan-Peter Balkenende might do something good for the EU today or tomorrow: raising the issue of the EP having its seat in Strasbourg at the European Council meeting in Brussels. See this article from EUObserver. Balkenende is far from being my favourite European politician – he’s a centre-right Christian Democrat who helped mess up the vote on the European Constitution in the Netherlands, and he’s also very dull. But with apparently half the votes at coming from Netherlands, he reckons the European Council ought to deal with the Strasbourg issue – good luck to him! I’m sure Schuessel will try to brush the issue under the carpet, but it does look like the debate on Strasbourg is at last starting to move.


  1. indeed. I “happily” accept that most of the blame has to be laid on France, which never really took into account the concerns of MEPs.

  2. I’m also amazed by Manu each time we end up discussing Strasbourg. I think that the fact that Schuessel (note, not Schluessel:)) simply dismissed the argument by saying the MEPs should bring up serious issues is something we should not accept. If there is no exposition of problems, of course we won’t move on. And the longer we keep such issues off the Council agenda, the longer we will have this stupid Treaty provision of 3 locations of the EP.

    And I think that your point on poor transport links is simply too laughable:) I think that France should improve its transport links to various regions anyway, having EU institutions there or not…

  3. Obviously, the transport links are crap. But there’s no incentive to change that if MEPs come to Stbg 3 days a month. If they were permanently based there, the necessary investments to change this could then be engaged.

    At the end of the day, one way or the other, it all depends on a Treaty change, since both the official seat in Strabsourg and the additional plenary sessions and committee meetings in Brussels are enshrined in a Protocol annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam…

  4. Robert

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that the petition website says it should be in Brussels too so you’re on your own when it comes to lobbying for Strasbourg.

  5. Robert

    Emmanuel: we’ve been through this before – Strasbourg has crap transport links from the rest of the continent, everyone knows this and that’s why everyone wants it to be in Brussels. It’s a no-brainer argument.

    Of course, while they’re about it, they should move the EP secretariat from Luxembourg to Brussels too. Such consolidation makes the EU look less like a job-creation gravy train to citizens and gives less ammunition to eurosceptics.

  6. Robert, when asked, most French agree that the EP should have only one site. This obviously makes sense. But I’m not sure they would all vote for Brussels: Strasbourg, to date its official seat, seems a much more appropriate location (that’s only a personal opinion, though. I’m not representing all Frenchmen and -women)

  7. Robert

    I don’t actually know if it’s only the French who are against having one site for the Parliament, though I assume it is.

    Most likely the other countries will have to offer Strasbourg a ‘bone’ to get them to agree, such as siting some new agencies there or whatever.

  8. No no no! I’m still very much against the veto. for the EP as for the Constitution. But that does not mean I should just ignore the political and legal current situation.

    However much one may dislike unanimity (and I do), Schlüssel is right in his assessement of today’s situation that the issue of the EP’s seat will not be adressed because it has to be agreed upon by all the 25 member states. Therefore, the way he answered to the MEPs was clever because he asked them to concentrate on important issues rather than on those they have no grip on.

    Besides, I am not ashamed to support a guy like Schlüssel, who has more integrationist credentials (Europe-wide referendum etc.) than Balkende you just praised here. 😉

    Oh, by the way, I signed the petition as… Jacques Chirac… Which leaves even more doubts as to how one can trust the number of signatories the petition claims….

  9. Manu, your double standards are incredible! You are supposed to be a European federalist, and federalists support majority voting and the abolishment of the veto. Only in your case Strasbourg seems to be the exception! Now, I can understand why you don’t want the EP to move, but supporting Schüssel’s clever move!?! Shame!

  10. Schlüssel DID brush the question aside in a very clever way, saying that the matters needs unanimity to be addressed, which will not be achieved and that he was looking forward to engaging into intersting discussions with MEPs on subjects that (really) matters…

    I’m glad that half of the signatories come from the NL. It tells a lot about both the representativeness of such online petitions and the support enjoyed by the proposal to move the Parliament from Strasbourg from Brussels.

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