Tuesday

4th Oct 2022

MEPs drop Strasbourg rent scandal investigation

  • No illegal behaviour, but a "discourteous" approach by the city of Strasbourg, say MEPs (Photo: EUobserver)

MEPs in the budgetary control committee have signed off the parliament's 2004 accounts after months of blocking the move due to allegations that the parliament was paying too rent for its Strasbourg buildings.

The parliament's investigators concluded they found no proof of illegal acts on the part of the Alsatian city - accused earlier this year of charging the House around €80 million extra since 1979 – but criticised its approach for being "discourteous."

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German centre-right MEP Markus Ferber, who headed the inquiry into the scandal, concluded that "despite no evidence of an illegal rental relationship" the EU legislature "incurred a financial damage due to excessive rental payments."

The adopted report suggests Strasbourg's authorities behaved "contrary to rules on hospitality towards international institutions," as they knew about the unsuitable terms of the contracts between the House, the city and a Dutch pension fund that owns the buildings and lets them to the city, but they did not inform the parliament properly.

"With the purchase of the EP-buildings in Strasbourg including the soil, agreed upon now, the damage incurred will be compensated for on a long-term basis. I thus see no more reason, why discharge should be denied further," noted the MEP, following the vote in the committee.

He was referring to the greenlight MEPs involved in the talks over the purchase of parliament's Strasbourg buildings gave to the latest proposal to buy three remaining buildings for €143 million, worth around eight years of annual rent under the current terms.

The purchase was blocked earlier this year after it emerged that the city of Strasbourg required €29 million from EU funds in rental compensation payments from the sale. Under the new deal, the French government will foot that bill.

Critics of the purchase point out that it is illogical move to buy the building given the size of the popular support for scrapping the Strasbourg seat.

The oneseat.eu online petition has so far received around 988,000 votes from across Europe.

Parliament close to buying all Strasbourg seat buildings

With a petition to scrap the European Parliament seat in Strasbourg gathering close to one million signatures, MEPs are moving closer to a deal to buy all the EU parliament buildings in the Alsatian city.

We can't do anything about Strasbourg, commission says

MEPs have handed the European Commission a petition of more than one million signatures calling for an end to the "travelling circus" involving the Strasbourg seat of the parliament - but the EU executive has said there is very little it can do about it.

One million EU citizens call for Strasbourg to be ditched

More than one million EU citizens have called for the European Parliament to abandon its second home in Strasbourg, while Brussels has distanced itself from EU communication commissioner Margot Wallstrom's comments on Strasbourg becoming a "negative symbol of wasting money".

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