The additional cost of maintaining two seats (Brussels & Strasbourg) for the European Parliament is estimated to be around €180 million per annum. At a time of economic difficulties and budgetary cuts in the member states this waste of tax payer’s money is absolutely unacceptable according to Ireland East MEP Liam Aylward.
Speaking today during a debate in the European Parliament on the “European Citizens’ Initiative” the Ireland East MEP highlighted that this was an issue which European citizens wished to see addressed without delay, yet they are prevented from submitting a Citizens’ Initiative on this controversial issue.
“I have been part of the campaign for a single seat from a number of years and along with the citizens, I am becoming frustrated at the barriers which are being put in place to avoid facing up to this unacceptable situation. As well as the financial waste, over 19,000 tonnes of CO2 could be saved each year with the adoption a single seat.”
In questioning the European Commissioner the Ireland East MEP sought clear answers as to why one of the most controversial and costly issues cannot be raised by citizens via an Initiative:
“The Citizens’ Initiative has been in place for a year now, yet one of the key areas of concern to citizens – the issue of the single seat for the Parliament & the unacceptable costs of maintaining two seats – remains off the agenda. This is undemocratic and contrary to the rights of citizens.”
“Citizens have a right to have their voices and opinions heard on this issue. A petition on the single seat launched a number of years back has gathered more than 1.27 million signatures. European authorities cannot continue to ignore the views of citizens.”
“It is disappointing that in responding to my questions the Commission did not give a commitment to reviewing this infringement on citizen’s rights. As part of the campaign for one seat I will continue to press the Commission for action on citizen’s and MEPs’ demands.”
The European Citizens’ Initiative is a platform to invite the European Commission to propose legislation on matters where the EU has competence to legislate. A citizens’ initiative has to be backed by at least one million EU citizens, coming from at least 7 out of the 27 member states. A minimum number of signatories is required in each of those 7 member states, in Ireland’s case it is 9,000 signatures.