MEP Márton Gyöngyösi’s (Non-attached) thoughts via press release:
When the European Union’s predecessor was formed, the key message was to represent the German-French reconciliation. As a clear geographical indication of this effort, the community’s centres were established in the zone between the two countries, i.e., the scenes of their historical clashes. Brussels, Strasbourg and the City of Luxembourg serve as the declaration of unity among the Western European countries. As if the eastern enlargement had never happened…
While European politicians speak loudly of environmentalism, green solutions and, of course, reducing energy consumption, the European Union is going to Strasbourg and moving thousands of people for the second time just this October to abide by its contractual obligations and hold its meeting session in the French city again. Apparently, some things never change, even amidst a war or an impending climate disaster…
When you have to set out on a journey either way, you may often wonder why the European Parliament’s plenary sessions must always be held in Strasbourg.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this nice Alsatian city with its scenic streets and quaint restaurants, but the fact of the matter is that the political symbolism of the place has faded for a long time.
I think the European Union should definitely consider that if it is spending precious energy on moving its entire apparatus across borders and countries for a plenary session anyway, perhaps the meeting should be held at a place that better reflects the EU’s current conditions and centre of gravity.
Personally, I would like to recommend the city of Trieste for this purpose. Just like Strasbourg, Trieste lies in a border zone between countries, cultures and regions. Despite belonging to Italy, it is close to Slovenia and Croatia, while it also feels relatable for Austrians, Hungarians and Czechs on account of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (although I believe Poles and Romanians have an undisputed connection to our former country’s legacy as well, now that we mention it). Furthermore, not only is Trieste much farther from Brussels than Strasbourg, which would have a positive impact on the EU bureaucrats’ wallets when it comes to travel cost reimbursements, but it’s much closer to the newer eastern member states, too.
I’m talking about the eastern member states whose populations still can’t fully identify with the European Union or feel as second-class citizens in it.
These are the same eastern member states that are threatened by Russian aggression at this very moment. If the European Union truly wants to show unity, it should take this symbolic step so that the operation of its institutions could reflect on the fact that our continent’s eastern part belongs to the EU as well.
I don’t want to appear biased, of course. Although I myself would cast my ballot for Trieste, there are other cities that also deserve to be given a larger role in the EU’s life. Just imagine how the Orbán regime, which constantly hurls accusations at Brussels, would be triggered politically if the EP had its session in Budapest, or how strong a message it would be to move the EU’s centre to one of the Baltic states, if only for a week per month.
Of course, none of this can happen without the support of Eastern European MEPs. Well, if you feel inspired by my post, I warmly welcome you to a talk about this matter. And now, let me start packing my suitcase for a week in … Strasbourg.
Disclaimer: the sole liability for the opinions stated rests with the author(s). These opinions do not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Parliament.
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