Europe is indeed in crisis, but for its politicians austerity seems to be an distant notion.
In their continuous push for saving money, European Union politicians are overlooking their own enormous expenses. Take for instance the European Parliament, whose travel expenses amount to €180 million ($230 million) a year! And all that because once a month, thousands of lawmakers, their staffs, translators and interpreters travel from Brussels to Strasbourg, 400 kilometers away, for a four-day meeting. Then it’s back to Brussels again for the army bureaucrats.
Fortunately, some of the European Parliament’s 754 members, representing voters from the 27 EU member states, are beginning to criticise these absurd expenses.
“If European leaders are serious about efficiency and fighting waste – especially within the European institutions – then the European Parliament’s single-seat is a point of departure. European citizens, and more than half of the European Parliament, demand an end to that traveling circus,” British Liberal Democrat Edward McMillan-Scott and three other European lawmakers wrote in a letter to the Brussels daily De Standaard.
For the 2014-2020 budgetary term, McMillan-Scott estimates the parliament’s monthly Brussels-to-Strasbourg trek will cost €1.2 billion – and emit 133,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the air. The reason for this monthly Brussels-Strasbourg „travelling circus” is that France doesn’t want to give up on its city (Strasbourg) hosting 12 sessions a year of the European Parliament.
The circus could go on for many years to come, as French President Francois Hollande said Friday that changing the EU treaty so the parliament can just stay in Brussels all the time wouldn’t happen.