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France to take legal action over decision to cut Strasbourg trips
Date 16/03/2011 14:33  Author webmaster  Hits 1070  Language Global
16 MAR 2011

By Simon Taylor

The French government has said it will take the European Parliament to the EU's Court of Justice over a vote to hold two plenary sessions in Strasbourg in the space of one week next year.

Laurent Wauquiez, France's minister for EU affairs, issued a statement today (14 March) saying that the vote by MEPs last Wednesday was “regrettable and inopportune”. Wauquiez said that holding two sessions in one week would “impede the effective functioning of parliamentary work”.

The statement said that the vote “ignored” the protocol in the EU treaties that states that Strasbourg is the seat of the European Parliament, and “put into question” Strasbourg's status.

MEPs voted on 9 March to hold two plenary sessions in the same week in October in 2012 and 2013. This would satisfy the legal requirement to hold 12 sessions a year in Strasbourg, in line with the treaty protocol. The Parliament usually holds two sessions in September, but in different weeks, to compensate for the fact that there is no plenary session in August.

Holding two sessions in the same week would reduce the number of times MEPs and staff travel to Strasbourg. Holding sessions in Strasbourg costs €180 million a year and is estimated to generate 19,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

The French government took the European Parliament to the European Court of Justice in 1996 after MEPs voted to hold just 11 sessions in Strasbourg in 1992 and 1993, and ten sessions in 1994. The court upheld the treaty obligation to hold 12 sessions in Strasbourg, although it ruled that in election years only 11 sessions were necessary.

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