Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Thursday, 13 May 2010 12:14 UK

UK aims to end MEPs' Strasbourg shuttle

European Parliament in Strasbourg
The parliament generates income for Strasbourg businesses

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government plans to lobby the EU to scrap the European Parliament's monthly trips to Strasbourg.

"We agree that we will press for the European Parliament only to have one seat, in Brussels," their coalition pact says.

The Strasbourg shuttle is estimated to cost 203m euros (£160m) a year.

Ending the shuttle could cut 20,268 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, the Green Party says.

All the main UK parties have objected to the Strasbourg shuttle for years, dubbing it a "travelling circus". But France is keen to keep the parliamentary plenary sessions on its territory.

Each month more than 700 MEPs, plus about 3,000 aides and numerous documents, have to travel the 454km (280 miles) from Brussels to Strasbourg, to attend the week-long plenary sessions.

The location of EU institutions is enshrined in EU treaties, so all 27 member states would have to agree to a change of location.

A Swedish liberal politician, Cecilia Malmstroem, launched an internet petition in May 2006 to campaign for the European Parliament to be based permanently in Brussels. It collected more than a million signatures.

Ms Malmstroem was an MEP at the time, but now she is EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.

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