Thursday, 19 March 2009


No MEP has done more than Cecilia Malmstrom to try and put an end to the European Parliament's travelling circus, the term often used to describe the monthly shifting of its operations between buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg. She organised a petition of 1 million signatures to protest against the colossal waste of money involved.

These days my Liberal former colleague is the Swedish European Minister, so in Stockholm I asked her how she might pursue her campaign when Sweden takes over the EU presidency.

She picked up my suggestion that she could call on MEPs to have a clear vote on the issue to express their own preference. (It is divisive and the party bosses are good at keeping it off the agenda). But she made it clear that her freedom for manoeuvre was limited.

"Recently I wrote an article criticising the parliament's arrangements in a very small Swedish newspaper," she said. "In response I had a letter from the French government reminding me that the two-seats arrangement is specified in the EU treaty."

No change is possible so long as any one government can exercise a veto. The French are watching!

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