"Anti-Strasbourg MEPs – those who want to regroup all of the parliament's activities in Brussels – have scored a point," reports French daily Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, following the November 20 vote in the parliament in favour of the Fox-Häfner Report regarding "the location of European Union institution seats." The report advocates ending what's known as the "travelling circus", whereby the parliament is required to sit in both Brussels and Strasbourg.

Nonetheless, notes the paper, "the anti-Strasbourgers scored only 483 votes, somewhat short of the 500 votes they'd hoped for. A total of 141 MEPs voted against the report and 34 abstained, notably because it proposes no alternative for Strasbourg – or for the European Parliament building.

It is an "interesting" debate, says Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore

and not only because the vote puts the finger on an inefficient anachronism. The Parliament is more and more influential in the European decision-making process. Until now, governments managed to escape from its demands, but because the weight of the Parliament in relation to the Council is changing rapidly, it is probable that the vote will not be totally ignored in the national capitals.

"No one can deny the cost required for two huge buildings, one of which, in Strasbourg, is used only 45 days per year but which must be rented, heated and maintained, points out journalist Anne Blanpain on French-speaking Belgian radio and TV broadcaster RTBF. "But a decision will have to be made and this universal, world-wide festival of bad faith will have to stop once discussion on this sensitive issue begins," she says, adding –

Let us put aside the arguments explaining that Strasbourg is incapable of properly accommodating the parliament. [...] But let us also ignore some of the pro-Strasbourg rants [...] For them, Brussels is clearly equated with bureaucracy, the Council and the Commission while Strasbourg stands for democracy, citizenship and thus the Parliament. Okay, but if I were them, I would have added love, joyful living, fraternity, butterflies and pretty flowers.

In the midst of all these arguments, Dutch daily Trouw warns –

the seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg has become an anti-European symbol. Not only is this is on-going, it is getting stronger. The lorries and the boxes of files that are shuttled back and forth each month between Brussels and Strasbourg will continue to appear on television as indicators of the bureaucracy, inefficiency and stupidity of the European Union.