Europe is 'screwed' if its parliament sits only in Brussels, says Macron

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Vilnius, Lithuania September 28, 2020. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

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PARIS (Reuters) – Europe is “screwed” if the European Parliament ceases sitting in the French city of Strasbourg once a month and convenes only in Brussels, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

“At the moment I’m fighting tooth and nail for the idea that the European Parliament should convene in Strasbourg,” Macron told university students in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

“If we accept that the European Parliament only gathers in Brussels, we’re screwed, because in 10 years time everything will take place in Brussels and people will only speak amongst themselves in Brussels,” he added.

Macron complained in a letter to the president of the European Parliament last week about the assembly’s decision to hold sessions in Brussels only for the time being as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In normal times, the parliament’s lawmakers convene in Strasbourg for one week every month and in the Belgian city of Brussels for the remainder. The monthly upheaval costs the bloc 114 million euros ($124 million) a year, EU auditors say.

Critics have long called for the arrangement to be scrapped, but it has stayed in place largely because France would veto any attempt to make the required amendments to the EU treaty.

France says Strasbourg, which abuts the border with Germany, is a symbol of European post-war reconciliation and that European institutions should not all be centralised in one city.

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