The question of having three places of work for the European Parliament (Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg) is often a topic of debate. The discussion on this is still ongoing because of the many parties involved.
The Member States of the European Union decided unanimously in 1992 to fix the seats of the EU institutions permanently, in order to formalise the situation that has existed since the creation of these institutions.
The European Parliament’s official seat and the venue for most of the plenary sessions would be Strasbourg; parliamentary committees would have their meetings in Brussels, and Parliament’s Secretariat (its staff) would be based in Luxembourg. Besides the twelve four-day plenary sessions held in Strasbourg, a number of additional two-day sessions are held in Brussels.
Reference to seats in the EU Treaties
In 1997 this whole arrangement was incorporated into the EU treaty (Article 341 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), and the seats of all EU institutions were listed in Protocol No 6 on the location of the seats of the institutions and of certain bodies, offices, agencies and departments of the European Union.
Based on the above-mentioned Article 341, any change in the current system would need to be part of a new treaty, agreed unanimously by all 28 Member States and ratified by each of their national parliaments.
In an answer to a parliamentary question from 2010, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič explained that “the Treaties give Member States exclusive power to determine where EU institutions’ headquarters are located. This is to be determined by common accord of the governments of the Member States (Article 341 TFEU).” Commission President José Manuel Barroso reiterated this position on 20 May 2014 in another answer to a parliamentary question.
European Parliament resolution
On 20 November 2013, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the location of the seats of the European Union’s Institutions, in which MEPs called for a treaty change to allow Parliament to decide where it sits. Parliament said it would initiate an EU treaty revision procedure to propose the changes needed to allow Parliament itself to decide on the location of its seat and its internal organisation. It would be “more effective, cost-efficient and respectful of the environment if it were located in a single place”, MEPs said. The EP committee responsible for this resolution was the Committee for Constitutional Affairs.
The resolution also asked “the Court of Auditors, or a similar independent agency, to provide a comprehensive analysis of the potential savings for the EU budget if Parliament had only one seat; asks that this analysis include budgetary aspects and ancillary costs such as savings made through reduced loss of working time and greater efficiency”. The European Court of Auditors adopted its “Analysis of potential savings to the EU budget if the European Parliament centralised its operations” on 11 July 2014.
More information about the EP workplaces can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions to the Parliament’s Press Service.