In March, 2011, M.E.P.s overwhelmingly voted in favour of trying to stop the scandal of the €150 million that are thrown away moving the 736 MEPs, their 3,000 staff and the vital 3,500 movable cabinets from Brussels to Strasbourg and back every month for a four day voting session.
A study by the University of York has shown that around 20.000 tonnes of carbon emissions are wasted transporting the 350 tonnes of papers and assorted files each year. In a small but significant gesture, they voted to move two of the sittings into the same month, trying to cut the costs to the European taxpayer of one of these unnecessary journeys.
Disturbed by the thought of the threat to their gravy train, the French MEPs urged their government to take this matter to the European Court of Justice on the grounds that the right to twelve monthly sessions in the heart of Alsace was laid down in European treaties.
In a little noticed ruling at the end of last year, the Court agreed with the French position stating that ‘…even if the disadvantages and costs engendered by the plurality of places of work – as described by Parliament – are acknowledged, it is not for Parliament or the court to remedy the situation…’
Effectively, as these treaties can only be changed by unanimous vote, the ECJ has given the French government a veto on any attempt to save taxpayers’ money by seeking to rationalise European business at a single venue.
It further shows that the European Parliament is only allowed to exercise such democratic remit as it possesses when it agrees with the unelected European bodies such as the European Commission or the European Court of Justice.