Graham Watson MEP
Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar
A local champion with an international reputation
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Published on Monday 5th December 2011
The Single Seat Campaign
Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament are very much leading the way in attempting to abolish the Strasbourg seat. Lib Dem MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, Edward McMillan Scott is the chair of a study group that investigates the issues surrounding the two seat system and co-chairs a campaign called Single Seat (http://www.singleseat.eu). It was infact the result of an agreement made by John Major in 1992 during a
European Council meeting and the agreement was then enshrined in the Amsterdam Treaty. Attempts to remove the seat have been consistently blocked by the French government and the French Parliament who for obvious reasons argue that the local economy benefits greatly from the seat.
Following a recent vote by the European Parliament to reduce its visits to Strasbourg from 12 to 11 earlier this year, the French government has taken the Parliament to court and the outcome is expected at some point in 2012.
We can measure the cost of the monthly emigration to Strasbourg in a number of ways. It is estimated that the financial cost of the second seat is €180 million a year. These figures are however a little old and it is believe the true cost now exceeds over €200 million. It is also estimated that around 19,000 tonnes of CO2 could also be saved with the abolition of the seat. To put that in perspective a coal fired power station would emit the same level of CO2 in a year to power 5000 homes.
In tough economic times, local councils and national parliaments are finding savings where they can. Liberal Democrat MEPs believe the European Parliament is no different, which is why we are campaigning hard to save taxpayers £150 million a year.
Please visit the single seat website, follow it on twitter (@singleseatEU) or 'like' the campaign on Facebook to find out more!