If EU wants to save power it should cut monthly Strasbourg move, says MEP

BRUSSELS — Whether it’s reducing dependency on Russian imports or making savings ahead of winter, reducing energy consumption is a hot topic across Europe right now.

In Brussels, important institutions, including the European Parliament, have committed to reducing heating to save electricity.

But one MEP says amid the energy crisis the EU should scrap the practice of regularly moving Parliament between Brussels and Strasbourg.

“I find it totally unjustified that the European Parliament is heating and lighting two places and we continue to travel back and forth between the two seats,” German Green MEP Daniel Freund told Euronews.

“I think we should stay here in Brussels during the energy crisis.”

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According to the EU Treaties, Strasbourg is the seat of Parliament’s plenary sessions, where its members debate and vote on key issues. This takes place 12 times a year.

But MEPs do most of their day-to-day work in Brussels, traveling to the French city every month and only occasionally debating and voting in the Belgian capital.

A report by the European Court of Auditors published in 2014 estimated that moving all of Parliament’s work to Brussels would save around €114 million a year and total CO2 emissions – attributable to the operation of the Strasbourg site – to be almost 19,000 tonnes would.

However, the seat of parliament in Strasbourg has some clear historical roots, including as a sign of peace between France and Germany after the end of World War II. Freund sees this as outdated, however.

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“I think by 2022 the relationship between Germany and France will be strong enough that we can now afford a seat in the European Parliament,” said Freund.

“Parliament wants that, but unfortunately we cannot decide it. It is the governments, especially the French one, that prevent us from making this decision. If the EP could decide on its own, I think we will have a seat here in Brussels tomorrow.”

In January 2020, MEPs voted to ask EU countries to agree to a single seat for the European Parliament, without specifying whether that should be in the Belgian capital or in Strasbourg.

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In the offices of the European Commission, the heating temperature has been reduced by 2°C, as has the humidification.

This follows a 20% reduction in the overall energy consumption of its buildings over the period 2015-2021.

The European Parliament has lowered its temperatures and reduced the lighting in its premises.

Already equipped with photovoltaic solar panels, combined heat and power plants and heat pumps, the building has halted 14 construction and renovation projects to pay for rising energy bills. — Euronews

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