Travelling Circuses don’t come cheap!

Highlighting the cost of the EU's Travelling Circus between Brussels and Strasbourg, now £180 million a year.

Highlighting the cost of the EU's Travelling Circus between Brussels and Strasbourg, now £180 million a year.

For years I’ve been quoting the annual costs of the EU’s travelling circus — the monthly commute between Brussels and Strasbourg — as £130 million.  Seems I was wrong.  Both inflation and the exchange rate have moved on — and of course the numbers of MEPs (now a whopping 785) and associated support staff have increased with EU enlargement.  Apparently the current figure is €203 million, and even being generous with the exchange rate that’s a good £180 million. 
That’s our money.  And why do they spend it?  Because the French like to pretend that the seat of the European parliament is in Strasbourg, even though all sensible people know that it’s really in the even larger parliament building in Brussels, alongside the other major EU institions.
How can it cost so much?  Bear in mind that all the other (non-MEP) staff who come down from Brussels have to stay in hotels and eat in restaurants.  There are the MEPs’ personal staff (I usually bring one assistant), the delegation staff, the group staff, the parliament staff, never mind the medical people and the drivers and so on and so on.  There are the truck-loads of MEPs’ trunks and other kit.
In fact Strasbourg is merely a pleasant monthly trip to the country.  I’ll be honest: on a personal level I enjoy it very much (although travelling to and from Strasbourg is a ten-hour nightmare each way).  Strasbourg is a lovely city to spend a few days in.  I just don’t see why the European tax-payer should pick up the tab.
For years, I and other colleagues have campaigned and signed petitions and voted to close Strasbourg (the building would make a very good university, or hospital, or whatever).  But in the end it’s in the Treaties, and unless the French back down, we’re stuck with it.  And the French don’t back down until they hear the jackboots on the Champs d’Elysées.

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