Almost no sector is spared the impact of the energy crisis, with institutions and households forced to reconsider their budgets. Now, even the European Parliament has dropped construction and renovation projects that would cost €6.7 million to pay for soaring energy bills.
But critics argue that ditching the monthly plenary trip to Strasbourg would be a more efficient way to cut costs.
According to a briefing note seen by POLITICO from the Parliament's Directorate-General for Infrastructure and Logistics (INLO), a number of renovation projects, such as a new air conditioning system, €250,000 worth of new carpets, and €400,000 worth of lighting for the House of European History museum, have been put on hold. A €1 million press room in Brussels is also getting slashed.
In total, 14 renovation projects were dropped so funds can instead pay for maintaining existing Parliament buildings in Brussels, Luxembourg, and Strasbourg.
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On Wednesday, the Parliament’s Committee on Budgets approved the €6.7 million transfer to pay for energy instead. According to INLO boss Leena Maria Linnus, saving on costs was essential in the face of skyrocketing energy prices.
Stop the 'travelling circus'
Around €114 million is spent every year for the European Parliament's monthly move to Strasbourg, analysis by the European Court of Auditors from 2014 shows.
For years, MEPs have tried blocking the "travelling circus" to Strasbourg, but the move is written into European treaties. French officials insist that the venue is crucial for decision-making, yet Parliament was able to function during the pandemic when then Parliament President David Sassoli broke off parliamentary meetings in Strasbourg, due to coronavirus constraints.
However, a spokesperson for Parliament President Roberta Metsola told POLITICO that the Parliament is opting to reduce energy consumption and retain Strasbourg as a meeting point for lawmakers to "maintain unity within the EU."