EU news: Populist plan to save £175million of taxpayer’s money REVEALED | World | News

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In January, Italy’s deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio and Italian Five Star Movement MP Luigi Di Battista travelled from Italy to Strasbourg to kick off the party’s campaign for the next European election in May. In a video message shared on social media, Mr Di Maio called for the Strasbourg seat to be scrapped, claiming it is “used about 40 days a year and costs €1billion (£876million) per parliamentary term to European taxpayers, Italians included”. Pointing at the parliamentary building behind him, the populist politician added: “What you see is not only a waste of money but also a symbol of arrogance coming from those who waged war against us on the Italian budget.”

According to Mr Di Battista, another highly influential Five Star figure, taxpayers would save €200million (£175million) by scrapping the seat, which is used only four days a month.

It is not the first time the abolition has been put forward by politicians and, in 2017, the European Parliament held its first ever debate on the subject.

During the session, many MEPs seemed to favour the idea, as they claimed travelling to Strasbourg once a month was a waste of time, money, and CO2 emissions.

However, as Strasbourg is the official seat of the Parliament and any change to its status would require a change in the EU’s founding treaties by a unanimous decision of EU leaders in the European Council and French President Emmanuel Macron appears to be determined to keep it in Strasbourg.

France’s EU affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau said following the debate that the European Parliament would not move from the city as it is a symbol of historic reconciliation between France and Germany after World War 2.

Ms Loiseau said: “The seat of the European Parliament is in Strasbourg because of the treaties, and for real reasons.

“We have never conceived the European Union as an entity that should only have a single capital, and a single place.”

Speaking to Express.co.uk, a spokesperson for the European Parliament said regarding the abolition of its Strasbourg seat: “It was the national governments of the EU’s member states who unanimously decided in 1992 to lay down in the EU treaty where the EU institutions are officially seated.

“This decision had important consequences for the working arrangements for the Parliament: its official seat and the venue for most of the plenary sessions officially became Strasbourg.

“Parliamentary committees were to have their meetings in Brussels.

“Parliament’s Secretariat would be officially based in Luxembourg.

“Any change in the current system would need changing the treaty, which requires unanimity among all member state governments and ratification by each of their national parliaments.”

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