Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

links for 2008-03-15


  1. It is very easy to understand Strasbourg from the local point of view, but more than that the ‘two seats’ solution (or, more precisely, Strasbourg as the official seat) shows the propagandistic nature of the anti-EU crowd who call themselves ‘eurosceptics’.

    The ones who champion a ‘new European Union’, based on free trade and pure intergovernmental cooperation are usually the ones to deride the results of the latter the most.

    The seats of the institutions have been decided – at treaty level – unanimously by the member states’ governments, and unanimity would be needed to undo even part of the package.

    But, perhaps the intergovernmentalists argue that their voluntarily cooperating governments would need no parliament and no citizens at all, leaving everything in the hands of transparency-oriented national diplomacies(?)

  2. The way I understand it the eurosceptics have very little to do with the movement towards one seat for the EP, it’s more to do with the MEPs themselves who are fed up of having to shift around the place all the time – and the fact that the decision was unanimous matters not a jot if you consider that it was a unanimous decision taken before a large number of the current member states WERE member states.

    In any case, all it would take is another unanimous vote to change the decision – an eminently sensible one as the EU is forking out so much rental money on keeping the current buildings, the buildings themselves are up for sale (necessitating more unnecessary expense), Brussels has its own parliament buildings now, and it costs huge amounts of money to travel between the two seats all the time.

    It has nothing to do with a drive towards free trade and intergovernmentalism (at least, not that I’ve ever heard), everything to do with stopping a waste of money – a waste that exists, if I recall correctly, purely because of the fairly arbitrary symbolic decision to locate the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and backed up by ongoing French stubbornness.

  3. The decision on the seats is a clear example of unanimous intergovernmental decision making, unanimous, behind closed doors, substantially bad.

    One stubborn member is enough to prevent a sounder decision.

    What more do you need in the way of illustration of the vagaries of intergovernmentalism?

  4. The more interesting side of the debate is whether it might be a good idea to base the EP completelt in Strasbourg. Of course France likes the idea, and I was shocked to see that Van Buitenen (Dutch MEP) also liked the idea.

    The seat question is an interesting one that shows how progress can be blocked by a single member. On the other hand, the EU has more pressing problems to address, so it might be handier to save the scarce political capital for those.