Daniel Gueguen

Everyone knows the European Parliament (EP) is deficient in terms of technical knowledge, but let’s forget that and talk instead about the Parliament buildings in Brussels. Do they need to be renovated? Restored? Or rebuilt? This month a friendly bird dropped onto our desk a memo – undoubtedly intended to be confidential – that examines the three options above and assesses the cost of each one.

For a “basic” renovation, it would require “around” €310 million; a restoration with “new limited functionalities” would cost €345 million; for a demolition/reconstruction, around €380 million. The seriousness of the study really jumps out at you! Thus, there would be only a 25% gap between a mere upgrading and major works involving knocking down, re-designing and rebuilding almost 100,000 m2 of office space.

The timeframes are not stipulated. However, the document does say that it will be up to the Parliament Bureau to make a decision during the second half of 2019, i.e. after the elections. In the meantime, no uncomfortable questions and no waves. The same silence persists with regard to the Wiertz Museum next to the EP. What is happening here? Is the Museum going to be captured by the parliamentary ogre?

These colossal (and seemingly inevitable) works raise questions that, although uttered quietly in private, we refuse to address in public. Is the Strasbourg building being used as a kind of logistical staging post during these works so that the Parliament can ultimately be moved to a single seat in Brussels? Ulterior motives are numerous, ambitions are formidable and double standards are guaranteed.

Basically, behind the pretext of renovation hides the issue of the European Parliament’s future. It is too easy for the EP to demand more offices, more budget and more power, while at the same time its law-making performance diminishes and its role as co-legislator falls under threat from the predominance of the European Council on political files and from the bureaucratic grip of the Commission on technical files.

There is no end in sight to the mysteries of the European Parliament. To be continued in September!

 

Daniel Guéguen

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