European Parliament can't get enough luxury buildings

6 January 2019

European Parliament can't get enough luxury buildings

 Yellow jackets, Brexit, European elections : you'd expect the European Parliament to have become a little more reasoable, even humble, in relation to the citizenry of the member states. But when you consider the policy regarding their own buildings, there's not much sign of that. Expensive information offices in exclusive locations in every member state, and in Brussels, the purchase of the House of European History and of the Solvay Library, rebuilding and thorough renovation of the Paul Henri Spaak building, and to cap the lot a cool €3 million for guest accommodation at the Jean Monnet House in the region of Versailles. As a member of the Committee on Budgetary Control I'll be focusing on this behaviour worthy of the Sun King, and absolutely unworthy of people's representatives.

In recent years we have had one scandal after another concerning the EP's building policy. Every visitor to Brussels or Strasbourg is struck by the glittering nature of the buidngs in which the Parliament is housed. Their size can be explained with reference to the thousands of people who use them each working day. But the fact that one of the most important buidlings, the Paul Henri Spaak building, after only thirty years, must be levelled, or in any case rebuilt at a cost running into hundredsof millions of euros ; that nobody can understand. Huge errors were made in its construction, but we're told we should look towards the future and so proposals are on the board to tempt the best architects, people who will give us something beautiful. And all of that, of course, at the expense of the taxpayer.

That's not all. Recently we critcised the fact that the EP's information offices in the member states are always located in the most expensive locations, such as the Boulevard Haussman in Paris. Once again we're talking many millions. And in Brussels itself the Parliament is buying building after building, not for the institution's core tasks, but for such things as a museum – the House of European History- or as a library annex and reception centre – the Solvay building. Recently, moreover, I discovered quite by chance that the EP wants to buy a house to the south-west of Versailles, which it appears will be used for EP staff jollies. This house, the Jean Monnet House, is already standing and includes a conference facility, but thirty guest rooms will need to be added. This will make a difference to hotel costs, if you can believe it.

From the point of view of the average citizen, it's impossible to follow. The EU continues to impose austerity on the member states, social provisions are being demolished, while the member states make punishing cuts in health care, education and security. Yet the European Parliament itself can evidently bathe in luxury. This is incomprehensible and unacceptable. If anything shows the attitude that the Brussels elite has towards ordinary people, it's the buildings policy. When the motion to monitor and control spending comes up this year, I'll be proposing a number of punitive cuts. The SP has no intention of going along with this luxurious behaviour.

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