The EU’s top court on Thursday rejected a claim from France that the European Parliament did not respect the bloc’s treaties when it decided in 2017 to adopt the EU’s annual budget at a session in Brussels rather than Strasbourg.
It is the second time in three years that the Court of Justice of the European Union has overturned a plea from the French government to defend the Parliament’s Strasbourg seat. Critics of the monthly decampment of MEPs, staffers and officials — at a cost to taxpayers of €114 million a year according to a 2014 estimate by the EU’s Court of Auditors — argue it is inefficient and wasteful.
With coronavirus forcing more remote-working for MEPs in recent months, the need to maintain the legislature’s Strasbourg seat has come under even more scrutiny.
The Luxembourg court argued that the Parliament, which is required by law to vote on the EU budget “at ordinary plenary part-session held in Strasbourg,” has the right to debate and vote on it in Brussels “if that is called for by essential requirements relating to the proper conduct of the budgetary procedure,” according to the statement.
Thursday’s ruling is the culmination of a complaint filed in 2018 by France that a parliamentary session on the EU’s annual budget held in Brussels went against a requirement in the EU treaties that the institution “exercise the budgetary powers” during Strasbourg plenaries.
The claim referred to a decision by the Parliament to include the debate and the vote of a joint text of the 2018 EU budget in the agenda for a Brussels session held on November 29 and 30, 2017.
France had filed a similar complaint in 2017 but that too was dismissed by the EU’s top court.
A European diplomat said France is “examining” the ruling.