From the start of the French Presidency of the EU (1st July), a 300km/h Thalys train is going to be hired to transport MEPs and EP officials from Brussels to Strasbourg for the monthly plenary sessions. Sounds like a reasonable idea – via the high speed line towards Paris, skirting to the east of the city through Roissy, and then eastwards on the LGV-Est to Strasbourg.

But look at it a bit closer and things are not as rosy as the colour of the Thalys’s paintwork… First of all the train will take just under 400 people, so plenty more will still take the 5h30 Eurocity via Luxembourg. Plus if you look still further you see what an absolute scandal the Strasbourg sessions actually are – currently 9 planes (yes, 9(!) planes – it it really that many?) are chartered to fly MEPs and officials from one place to the other, a number that will be reduced to 3 when the Thalys takes over (see Le Soir). Add to that the €200 million cost of keeping Strasbourg open and you see where the real scandal lies. It would be helpful if people like Bruno Waterfield targeted their fire at that, rather than a train introduced to take planes out of the air. Maybe he’s just annoyed he’s not one of the ones that’s allowed on it.

If everyone insists on keeping Strasbourg open (and, lest we forget, national governments of all 27 Member States are complicit in it – it’s the Council that has to decide on the seat) then there should be no flights, not one, and not a single truck down the motorway carrying files. Every MEP, fonctionnaire, lobbyist should have access to a Thalys, and the files should be sent by train too.

One Comment

  1. Jon

    You can be as snide as you like about my personal motives and alleged distress not be on the train.

    My point, however, was:

    “French officials hoped that a new train service could mean that Strasbourg could be spun as more environmentally friendly but the wheeze has only reinforced the irrationality and elitism that is at the heart of the EU.”

    AND

    “Paris will present the new train, which will save just 2.5 per cent on the Parliament’s monthly travel budget of £161,000, as being a mark of an eco-friendly EU – two charter aircraft have cancelled. France needs to re-brand the Strasbourg seat of the European Parliament because it has become the example, par excellence, of the EU’s irrationality.”

    “The seat, intended as a symbol of post-war Franco-German reconciliation, costs hundreds of millions every year to maintain. The lavish, modernist buildings as well as the bizarre “travelling circus” has become a showcase of the euro-elite’s in-your-face contempt for the public – most people (including Euro-MPs) think the Strasbourg seat is ludicrous.”

    “The new train will underline that, reduced “carbon foot print” or not, the Strasbourg Parliament is a true symbol of an EU that is less of a public authority than a private convenience for officials that live in a different world from the people they govern. ”

    I would agree with you, though not your moralising about air travel, when you say: “Every MEP, fonctionnaire, lobbyist should have access to a Thalys.”

    My points were about Strasbourg and a lavish service for the few. On another issue if you want the details, internal documents, on MyParl.eu then do contact me.

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