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Euro MPs want to scrap Strasbourg base: poll

(BRUSSELS) - Most European parliament members would like to scrap its seat in Strasbourg and do all its business in Brussels, thereby saving time and money, according to the results of a poll released Wednesday.

The poll, conducted by the Campaign for Parliament Reform (CPR), revealed an overwhelming majority of 89 percent of MEPs polled want just one permanent seat for the European Parliament, the group said.

A total of 81 percent of the parliamentarians polled would like the seat to be in Brussels and so end the monthly trips to Strasbourg, estimated to cost around 200 million euros (265 million dollars) a year, according to the group led by German Liberal Democrat MEP Alexander Alvaro.

Of the 785 ballot papers sent to the MEPs, 306 were returned. This represents 39 percent of all members "and gives CPR a representative result," the group said in a statement.

Alvaro welcomed the poll results.

"Not only is the monthly travelling circus to Strasbourg a strenuous hassle, it is a waste of money and its massive carbon footprint can no longer be justified," he said.

With the results of the poll, coupled with one million people signing an on-line petition for a single parliamentary seat last year "one hopes the member states will take notice and begin a real dialogue," he added.

Fellow MEP Chris Davies, who initiated the poll, added: "Those in favour of the status quo, seemingly an ever decreasing minority, have a duty to respect the wishes of Europe's citizens and its elected representatives."

Many euro-deputies, particularly those in the eurosceptic ranks, have long and loudly complained about the transport difficulties and the extra costs they face when they travel to Strasbourg each month.

Although the European Parliament's official seat is in the northeastern French city, it meets more often in Brussels.

Any change, which would require an EU treaty modification, would have massive implications for the French city, whose economy thrives on the influx of money from deputies, officials, lobbyists and others, as well as the prestige the institution brings.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy opposes moves to shut the Strasbourg parliament.

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