European lawmakers won’t be back in Strasbourg this month

BRUSSELS (AP) — European lawmakers won’t be returning to the French city of Strasbourg for next week’s plenary session because of the COVID-19 resurgence in France, the European Parliament president said Thursday.

The session also won’t take place in Brussels, where the virus situation isn’t better than in France. European Parliament President David Sassoli tweeted that it will be held remotely.

“The situation in France and Belgium is very serious and traveling is not advised,” he said.

In a statement published later, the European Parliament said “the risk to public health is considered to have increased significantly.

“On the basis of this evaluation, it was decided that the necessary security conditions haven’t been met to allow the European Parliament to convene in full in person for the plenary session next week.”

Plenary sessions scheduled in Strasbourg, which is the official seat of the European Parliament — have been scrapped since March because of concerns related to the coronavirus. Staff and parliamentarians are mostly based in Brussels but almost all plenary sessions need to be held 450 kilometers (280 miles) away in Strasbourg, much to the chagrin of many legislators.

But French President Emmanuel Macron is a strong supporter of the Strasbourg sessions and recently said that the EU is “screwed” if the European Parliament stops meeting in Strasbourg. Macron also wrote to Sassoli asking him for a return of the plenary sessions to the Alsace city as soon as October.

But the health situation in France has since further deteriorated, prompting Macron to announce a night-time curfew in Paris and eight other cities to try to slow the spread of the virus.

“Strasbourg remains the home of (the European Parliament) and we will do everything we can to return,” Sassoli said.

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