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.


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.


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.