Sunday

19th Jan 2020

EU foreign service moves into new home

  • The inner courtyard (Photo: Atelier de Genval)

Foreign relations staff have quietly started moving into their new home on the Schuman roundabout in the EU quarter in Brussels.

A big padlock still hangs on the main door and light construction work is going on inside.

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  • The interior has a plain look (Photo: EUobserver)

But about 250 European External Action Service (EEAS) officials have shifted from various European Commission buildings in the past 10 days, with another 25-or-so trickling in each day. The premises will house 1,300 staff and EEAS chief Catherine Ashton when everybody is in by the end of May or June.

A few hundred people - the civilian and military crisis planning departments and the intelligence-sharing unit, SitCen - will stay permanently in their old premises, the so-called Kortenberg building and the Ecole Royale Militaire, close by.

"Instead of being split across seven buildings, EEAS will be regrouped in three ... It will facilitate contacts between the staff members. This will also reinforce the team spirit and the corporate identity of the EEAS," Ashton spokesman Micheal Mann said.

The new headquarters will have its own press conference room and a special area for handling and storing secure communications.

SitCen and the crisis management staff are staying put in part because security levels are better in their old premises. As things stand, security in the Ashton building is soft - people can come in without showing a badge or going through a scanner and are free to wander about inside.

The look of the headquarters is plain, with basic blue carpet tiles and bare white walls.

Unlike some other EU buildings which are named after famous Europeans, it will be called simply "EEAS." The foreign service has also scrapped the architects' original scheme of naming the six parts of the bloc after the capitals of the six founding EU countries.

The EU is leasing the 50,000 square metre premises from Belgian insurance and real estate company Axa for €12 million a year.

It chose it back in October 2010 and had originally planned to get everyone in by April 2011.

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