Brussels, 28 Feb 2005
A cross-party group of MEPs has called for the proposed European Institute of Technology (EIT) to be housed in the current European Parliament buildings in Strasburg.
The Campaign for Parliament Reform (CPR) comprises over 130 MEPs, and one of its main objectives is to achieve a single seat for the European Parliament in Brussels, abolishing what it sees as the wasteful monthly sessions in Strasburg.
According to an amendment to the 2003 Parliament budget report, tabled by one of CPR's founding members, 'Strasburg is an important symbol of post-war reconciliation but [...] the dispersion of Parliament's activities [...] have a negative impact on time and cost effectiveness; resulting in a waste of tax payers' money and thus destroying public opinion.'
Presenting a revamped Lisbon agenda focused on growth and jobs, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso suggested setting up a European equivalent to the US' Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to help stem brain drain and attract outside talent and investment to the EU.
A statement released by CPR on 25 February argues: 'An EIT at the heart of Europe, housed in the parliament buildings, would constitute a bold move towards the Europe of the future: a European knowledge economy. The current chair of CPR, Alexander Alvaro, added: 'The money saved by putting an end to the travelling circus - almost 200 million euro per year - would be well invested in Europe's future.'
CORDIS News asked a spokesperson for CPR whether the group feels that its proposal would be seriously considered: 'We believe there is a high chance of success in the long term, and that Strasburg is the perfect university setting. But does that mean that we can go to the Council and have them change the treaty in the next six months? That's unlikely,' she said.
The spokesperson continued: 'It's an idea that will make people think, and help draw attention to the fact that there are many good uses for this building that would save the European taxpayer a lot of money.'
In trying to win political support for the idea, the CPR believes that they have a very good chance at the start of a new Parliament, containing nearly 400 new MEPs not used to spending 1,000 euro a month on the roundtrip to Strasburg, and who are 'already getting fed up with the inefficiency and travel'.
The CPR would like to see MEPs put pressure on their own Member States and representatives in the Council in order to ensure that its proposal is given due consideration, the spokesperson concluded.
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