Business

EU pays $230M a year to keep Parliament on road

BRUSSELS — If European Union leaders are looking to save some serious money, they might look no further than the ‘‘traveling circus’’ that is the European Parliament.

The EU assembly leads a pricey and nomadic life. Once a month, it shifts thousands of lawmakers, their staffs, translators, and interpreters, to Strasbourg, France, 250 miles away, for a four-day meeting. And then it trucks them all back.

This costs European taxpayers $230 million a year. And it has many detractors, notably within the assembly.

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Foremost among them is Edward McMillan-Scott, a British Liberal Democrat.

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‘‘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,’’ he and three other European lawmakers wrote in a letter to the Brussels daily De Standaard.

The appeal was directed at the 27 EU leaders, meeting to debate the bloc’s 2014-2020 spending.

In that period, McMillan-Scott estimates, the Parliament’s monthly Brussels-to-Strasbourg trek will cost $1.5 billion — and emit 133,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the air.

Successive French governments have refused to abandon their city on the Rhine to keep the EU assembly in Brussels.

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Like his predecessors, French President Francis Hollande holds that the Parliament’s fate was sealed in a 1992 negotiation that assigned homes to two dozen EU institutions in various cities.