Brexit Party MEP complains about journey time to Strasbourg
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MEPs are set to return to the Parliament’s French seat for the June plenary session after officials caved in to pressure from France to reinstate the venue despite the worrying epidemiological situation on the Continent. President Emmanuel Macron has long championed a return to Strasbourg, even claiming the EU would be “screwed” if the Parliament stopped meeting there. But with MEPs set to return to the £410million white elephant, some have called for come back to be postponed until the coronavirus pandemic is over.
In a letter to Parliament president David Sassoli, some politicians argued that it was “too hasty” to attempt to host the June session in the French city.
European staffers have been told they will have to attend the plenary despite the current rigamarole of international travel.
They will not be exempt from the special measures in place to curb the spread of the virus as they move between Brussels and Strasbourg for the week.
In letter to Parliament bosses, seen by Express.co.uk, Lithuanian MEP Rasa Jukneviciene wrote: “Let us address you with a pending issue of high importance to the health and security of personnel of the European Parliament as well as our societies in general and directly related to the effective COVID pandemic management until the regulation on the EU Digital COVID Certificate enters into force in July.
“The decision to return the European Parliament to its seat in Strasbourg in June is too hasty and puts the staff of the European Parliament under unnecessary risk.
“The planned Strasbourg session in June means that a high number of personnel will be traveling without having had an opportunity to receive vaccination and, thus, without immunity to the coronavirus.
“The requirement for the returning staffers to undergo a quarantine of at least seven days confirms the projected health risk for them, their families, and the society.
“In addition, the mandatory quarantine after such work travel will strongly affect their and their families’ personal lives, which could also be avoided if the session was to be held in Brussels.”
She added: “The health of members and staff should be protected; moreover, the European Parliament should set the example in contributing to limiting the spread of the coronavirus, for these reasons travel activities should be reduced to a minimum until it can be done safely.”
Ms Jukneviciene, a member of the powerful European People’s Party, has been canvassing for colleagues to join her campaign to further delay the reintroduction of Strasbourg sessions.
Sources say her campaign is gathering momentum and could force Mr Sassoli to reconsider his plans.
More than 10 have already demanded the U-turn on the EU Parliament’s internal email system.
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In an leaked briefing to staffers, Parliament officials said: “To enter France, you will need to carry and present on request the following documents.
“A printed version of your mission order; a certificate stating that you carry out essential functions for the Parliament in Strasbourg.
“The document will be issued by the resource directorate of your DG; a completed sworn declaration; a negative PCR test result; the test should be done no more than 72 hours before arrival in France.”
One sceptical source told the Politico website: “This is mad. Why not wait until September when everyone is vaccinated?
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“What essential function is there in Strasburg when the plenary session can be easily held in Brussels, which has been the successful practice over the last 14 months?”
MEPs have repeatedly voted to ditch their second chamber in Strasbourg, which is unpopular with many officials due to the tiresome travelling and the lack of facilities in the small city.
Most EU nations are also in favour of ending the travelling circus, which is hugely damaging to the bloc’s reputation, but their efforts have been batted away by France.
The requirement for a seat in Strasbourg is written into the EU’s treaties, meaning France has an all-powerful veto which it has threatened to use if anyone tries to abolish it.
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