Grand coalition against wasting energy in the EU parliament, which, despite the crisis and the threat of a blackout – from today – wants to afford two fully heated and illuminated parliament buildings and the expensive and climate-damaging commute from Brussels to Strasbourg and even back in the winter.
But the last word has not yet been spoken – thanks to some MPs rising up against the “travelling circus”.
On Tuesday, German EU politicians from various factions (CDU, FDP, Greens) started the debate in BILD. Tenor: Send Strasbourg – the less important of the two parliamentary seats, which was already waived during the peak phase of the corona pandemic – into “hibernation”. The parliamentary seat in Brussels is sufficient.
Katarina Barley (SPD): Parliament must contribute
Now the SPD’s main voice is speaking at European level: Parliamentary Vice-President Katarina Barley (53).
The former federal minister for family affairs told BILD: “The European Parliament has already implemented a wide range of measures to save energy in the parliament buildings. Still, I think it makes sense to close the Parliament buildings in Strasbourg to get even more to save energy.”
The motto this winter should be to avoid power cuts for EU citizens. “Parliament must also contribute to this within its means.”
However, it is important to Barley that the closure does not negatively affect the staff in Strasbourg.
Energy costs have exploded
Who definitely benefits: the taxpayer. According to BILD research, the EU parliament already expects additional costs of 18.4 million euros for gas and electricity in 2022.
︎ Electricity costs are expected to triple from EUR 7 million to EUR 21.3 million (+14.3 million). ▶︎ Gas costs are expected to increase from EUR 1.7 to 5.8 million (+4.1 million).
The more bitter: several sources reported to BILD that in Strasbourg, even when there are no plenary sessions, the rooms are heated to a room temperature of almost 23 degrees and are brightly lit. Of course regardless of the time of day.
MEP Dennis Radtke (43, CDU) is especially angry “when the administration is sometimes not even able to turn off the lights in broad daylight”. He says: “As politicians we can’t just walk around with our index finger raised, we have to lead by example.”
Radtke supports the initiative of FDP politician Moritz Körner (32), Green Daniel Freund (37) and CDU environmental politician Peter Liese (57).
Burning letter to the President of Parliament
Liese has already written fire letters to parliament speaker Roberta Metsola and to the chair of the environmental committee Pascal Canfin (48). In it, according to BILD information, Liese demands that trips to Strasbourg be suspended until April 2023 and that until then he may only use the property in Brussels.
“In my opinion, it is unacceptable that large amounts of energy are used to heat two buildings,” writes Liese. In addition, the energy consumed for travel can be saved.
When will it be decided to hibernate in Strasbourg? Probably at the next meeting at the end of October. Parliament President Roberta Metsola (43) does not seem convinced: Yesterday, at the request of BILD, she had a spokeswoman say that the European Parliament wants to further reduce its energy consumption and install photovoltaic systems on Parliament’s roofs next year.