France’s European affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau sounded clear on December 3. She said her country will not agree to let the official base of the European Union’s parliament move from Strasbourg to Brussels.
“Strasbourg must remain the seat of European democracy. It’s also the symbol of Franco-German reconciliation,” she said on France 3 television. “It is often said that Europe comes down to the Brussels bubble. Europe needs to be closer to its regions.”
As reported by the Reuters news agency, members of the European Parliament convene in Strasbourg for one week every month and in Brussels for the remainder. The monthly upheaval costs the bloc €114m a year, according to EU auditors.
While critics have called for Strasbourg to be scrapped, France has warned it will veto any attempt to make the required amendment to the EU treaty.
In other news, Loiseau said there are “positive noises” from the Brexit negotiations. But she stressed that France remains vigilant on the issue of the land border with Ireland.
“It’s a red line which was drawn by the 27 member states and by the United Kingdom, accepted by them,” she said.
According to Reuters, Loiseau also said France was waiting for the Eurostat statistics agency to decide whether the reimbursements it is due to make to companies after a dividend tax was cancelled by courts should be all included in its 2017 accounts.
That would spoil the French government’s plans to bring its budget deficit below the EU-mandated 3% in 2017.
“In all logic, there is no reason to attribute the whole €10bn to 2017. That’s what we explained, we are waiting for Eurostat answers,” she said.