Thursday

20th Sep 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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 parliament will not budge on office expenses

Hungarian centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka sticks to earlier decision: documents related to the minor reform of the expenses system, requested by EUobserver, should remain secret.

Sefcovic launches bid to be EU Commission president

Europe must have a robust foreign policy and nurture high-tech industries, Slovak EU commissioner Maros Sefcovic has said in his bid to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as the next EU commission president.

Exclusive

Commission took no minutes at Juncker speech seminar

In August, Jean-Claude Juncker and his EU commissioners held a two-day seminar at a chateau outside Brussels to prepare this week's State of the Union speech. The commission implies there is no written record.

EUobserved

Juncker, the 'sad and wiser' man of Europe

Despite bold propositions for the EU's future, one could not help feeling the Commission chief's State of the Union address already sounded like a farewell speech.

News in Brief

  1. UK's Brexit plan 'won't work', says EU's Tusk
  2. Austria ex-chancellor hints at running for Juncker's job
  3. Greece to move asylum-seekers from overcrowded Lesbos camp
  4. Transatlantic soya trade soars due to trade wars
  5. EU tables strategy for connecting Europe and Asia
  6. Bulgaria backs Hungary in dispute with EU
  7. Trump urged Spain to build Sahara wall to stop migrants
  8. EU-Arab League summit proposed for February in Egypt

Sefcovic launches bid to be EU Commission president

Europe must have a robust foreign policy and nurture high-tech industries, Slovak EU commissioner Maros Sefcovic has said in his bid to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as the next EU commission president.

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

Political groups in the European Parliament are split about how to vote for a directive that would reform the EU's copyright regime - amid warnings that freedom of expression and creators' rights are at risk.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  4. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  5. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  8. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  10. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  12. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us