By Martin Banks - 10th May 2012
This was considered a disgrace
EU parliament source
Parliament has cancelled its participation in the landmark Rio+20 event due to "disgraceful" hotel costs.
Parliament was due to send a delegation of 11 MEPs to the UN Rio+20 summit on sustainable development, which is due to take place in June in Brazil.
The summit, attended by heads of state from all over the world, is a 20 year follow up to the earth summit in 1992.
But parliament baulked at estimates of €600 per hotel room per night which would have taken the overall cost of over €100,000.
The decision was taken earlier this week by political group coordinators of parliament's environment committee.
A parliament source said it was taken in light of "particularly in light of spiralling hotel costs".
The source said parliament was quoted €600 per hotel room per night irrespective of the length of stay.
He said, "The hotels were insisting that the delegation stays at least seven nights even though the plan was to stay only three or four nights. They also wanted payment up front."
"It meant that we would have been paying for empty rooms which further increased costs. The cost for the MEPs and four staff would have been over €100,000. This was considered a disgrace."
He added, "We thought about sending just one MEP but even this would have been too expensive for much the same reason."
"The huge increase in the estimated cost of attending the summit is simply not justifiable, especially at a time when many Europeans are faced with economic hardship", said environment committee chairman Matthias Groote.
Groote requested today that parliament's president Martin Schulz formally registers a complaint to the secretary-general of the conference.
The Brazilian government should have taken action to avoid hotels abusing their position, said Groote.
Further comment came from parliament's biodiversity and resource efficiency rapporteur Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE, NL), who was due to lead the delegation.
Gerbrandy said, "Avoiding such abuse is also part of the responsibility of hosting such a large conference."
The delegation comprised: EPP members Karl-Heinz Florenz; Peter Liese; Esther de Lange; Miroslav Mikolasik; Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines.
From the S&D group participants were Jo Leinen; Judith Merkies and Vittorio Prodi.
From ALDE, there was Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy while the Greens/EFA were due to send Sandrine Bélier and Miroslav Ouzky from ECR.
A parliament spokesman said, "Parliament's environment committee has decided not to send a delegation because Rio hotels have raised their prices to exorbitant levels."