Press release 27.9.2006
Campaign for Parliament Reform
– Making Europe’s Parliament accountable for its citizens
CPR presents Finnish presidency with 1 000 000 signatures of the www.oneseat.eu. campaign
Today, Foreign Trade Minister Paula Lehtomäki is being presented with over one million signatures of all the EU citizens protesting against the dispersion of the European Parliament’s work places. Minister Lehtomäki is receiving the petition on behalf of the present Finnish EU presidency.
For the first time, citizens from across Europe are giving a signal as to what they see as important in ensuring effective governance in the European Institutions: efficiency, accountability and transparency. One million European citizens have spoken out on www.oneseat.eu. against the waste of over €200 million a year on the European Parliament seat in Strasbourg.
Launched by the Members of Campaign for Parliamentary Reform (CPR), www.oneseat.eu. has already generated over one million signatures signalling EU citizens’ support to end the wasteful commuting circus to Strasbourg.
Cecilia Malmström, the Swedish MEP who initiated the OneSeat campaign says: “We are very pleased to present the Finnish Presidency with the first citizen initiative ever – the fact that citizens have spoken out about this issue shows how they would like the European Union to function – in an efficient and transparent manner. The Council can no longer ignore this strong call for change. They have called for the citizens to make their opinions heard – and here is one strong voice.”
“Ending the monthly commute is not a matter of convenience to the Members of the European Parliament, but rather a question of efficiency of European decision-making. I am glad that the current EU Presidency has chosen to acknowledge this call for more efficiency and I hope they will follow up on it”, says Finnish MEP Piia-Noora Kauppi.
Alexander Alvaro (FDP/ALDE), chairman of CPR recalls the negative impact the dispersion of Parliament’s activities between three working places has on time and cost effectiveness and the overall image of the European Union: “This waste of tax payers’ money is destroying public opinion. Strasbourg has in fact come to be seen as the symbol of the EU’s gravy train image. While we recognise the historic importance of the city of Strasbourg, a symbol of reconciliation and European unification, we believe to best ensure political stability and unity in the modern European Union, is to continually move closer to the ideal of an efficient and accountable decision-making body.”
“We hope that the overwhelming positive response from citizens across Europe to the oneseat.eu initiative will not be ignored by Council and Commission. In an unprecedented way, Europeans are calling for practical institutional reform at the European level. They understand that when the European Parliament’s travelling circus finally ends, the Parliament will be able to use its resources to more efficiently and effectively work on behalf of all Europeans,” says Cem Özdemir, German Green MEP.
The petition, www.oneseat.eu. , has its roots in Article 47 on participatory democracy in the proposed constitution for the European Union. The European Commission wants the citizens in the European Union to become more active and to participate in the debate on European issues. Accordingly, the signatures were last week also presented to the Commission.
“I am glad that the European citizens are calling for an end to this unjustifiable waste of money. They have a right to demand it and they should be heard. It is absurd that the only directly elected European body does not have the sovereign right to decide where it sits. I hope that concrete actions will follow the citizens’ demands, so that the EU can be perceived as more than just a talking shop wasting money,” appeals MEP Edith Mastenbroek, the Netherlands.
CPR is composed of over 130 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the political spectrum and from most EU Member States, who share the belief that the European Parliament is in urgent need of internal reform if it is to regain its credibility with voters. CPR is committed to enhancing the efficiency, transparency, and effectiveness of the European Parliament.