Thursday

19th May 2022

Costs soar for EU's 'House of Europe' in Paris

  • The site of the future 'House of Europe' in Paris. (Photo: Google Maps)

The European Parliament wants to spend €20 million to refurbish a building in central Paris on top of millions in annual rent.

An internal document dated late October from the EU Parliament's secretary-general and obtained by EUobserver says the money will go towards creating a House of Europe, which will include a basement cinema.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Some of those costs would be divided up with the European Commission, and possibly the French state, as part of an effort to bring the "parliament closer to the citizens".

The plan is to agree a 20-year fixed term lease with the landlords in a location described as ideal given the large pedestrian footfall of some 18,000 passers-by per hour.

Connecting with tourists?

It is unclear how many of those are actual EU citizens and not visiting tourists from abroad. But the Printemps department store is located directly opposite the site on 51 Boulevard Haussmann.

According to the Paris office of tourism, up to 50 percent of Printemps shoppers in some periods, are from places like Asia, the Middle East, Russia and the US.

The site was also chosen, out of 80 other buildings, because of a nearby train station and because it met the minimum required floor space.

The paper says the current EU house on Boulevard Saint-Germain, just opposite the National Assembly, won't do the job because there is no public space and "suffers from difficult access for persons with reduced mobility."

The decision to move forward on the new location was made in July by the European Parliament's 'bureau', composed of the president and vice-presidents.

Basement fun for the family

The House of Europe is supposed to connect with EU citizens but most of the floor space is set aside for the European Parliament, the European Commission, and political group offices.

Floors two to five will be reserved for both the commission and the parliament, with 120 square metres of office space set aside for political groups.

The public will only have access to a '360 degree' cinema in the basement, an interactive exhibition on the ground floor, "a role-play game on the mezzanine", and a conference room on the first floor.

"This layout will maximise the visitor capacity of the Europa Experience," notes the document.

It is unclear what exactly the 'Europa Experience' entails but a similar EU cinema in Berlin offers spectators a chance to "experience a plenary session of the European Parliament".

The parliament received a formal offer from the landlords in early September for the building, which has a net usable surface area of just over 3,000 square metres.

"The total annual rent, excluding VAT and parking, proposed was €5.58 million," notes the document.

The plan is to amortise the €20 million refurbishment fees over 20 years, bringing the total annual rent to €6.55 million.

Some €7 million would be used for "structural works", while another €13 million is "primarily for the installation of a Europa Experience."

Other big charges are also expected. Heating, electricity, and maintenance are expected to cost over €500,000 per year.

Despite sharing some of the costs with the commission, the parliament looks set to pay the biggest share of the bill.

"Of the total annual payment of €6.55 million covering both the rent and the amortised fit-out costs, the commission is currently willing to pay approximately €2 million," notes the document.

EU lobbies Hungary to break oil sanctions deadlock

After the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen's Budapest trip, Hungary suggested it wants EU funds to offset the extra costs from receiving different oil sources, and the increased energy prices the planned Russian oil embargo entails.

Political groups shun far-right pro-Kremlin MEP

French MEP Thierry Mariani from the far-right Identity and Democracy Group is spearheading a report in the parliament's foreign affairs committee. The socialists are boycotting it.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Finland expects cut in gas supply after Nato application
  2. Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands push offshore wind
  3. Turkey strong-arms Finland and Sweden on extraditions
  4. Sharp increase in irregular migration to EU
  5. Russia ejects 85 European diplomats
  6. Germany shuts ex-chancellor Schröder's office over Putin ties
  7. Russia soldier pleads guilty to Ukraine war crime
  8. EU to protect Finland and Sweden until they join Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Nordic Bridges unveil latest highlights of Spring programme
  2. EU plans to jointly invest in defence capabilities
  3. EU and US keen to seize Russian funds for Ukraine
  4. EU to boost solar and renewables rollout to cut Russian gas
  5. Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag
  6. Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy
  7. Watchdog calls for tougher curbs on 'problematic' revolving doors
  8. Borrell: EU arms flow to Ukraine amid 'record' Russian losses

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us