The environment has no borders.

There are also consultative bodies such as the Committee of the Regions (CoR), which is made up of elected councillors from the different member states. Secondly, there was a drive to involve 344 member representing local government as a way of bringing the EU closer to citizens. Lib Dem are commited to scrapping the Strasbourg Parliament saving €200 million a year. It is plainly better value for money to have one parliament instead of two.

This is fine, but if we imagine for a moment that Strasbourg was in the North East of England then we know that we would be campaigning hard to keep the parliament to protect jobs and the city. It is not just a question of people employed in the parliament, there are many jobs in the local Strasbourg economy that currently depend on the presence of the parliament. The answer must surely lie in moving beyond the headline grabbing rhetoric and advancing a plan that would provide Strasbourg with financial support over a period of years to enable the city to protect jobs, families, and local businesses while it reinvents itself.

Much is made of the size of the EU budget. At €122 billion euros, the EU is a significant economic power in its own right but this sum represents only 1% of the wealth generated in EU countries in a year. In early 2012 the Guardian carried a breakdown of where the money comes from and where it goes. The UK contributes less to the EU per person than Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Sweden. The UK contributes more than it receives, about £5.4bn more. Set against that, UK exports to the EU were worth more than £13.9bn in November 2011 alone. 3 million UK jobs depend on our trade with EU countries.