Saturday

25th May 2019

European parliament struggles to baptise new buildings

  • A recent poll saw 1/3 vote for naming the building after former German socialist chancellor Willy Brandt (Photo: EUobserver)

While the finishing touches on the new extensions of the European Parliament complex in Brussels are being done, the name - or the names - of the new buildings are slowly beginning to be discussed.

And of course it's not just a name. It's political. It's about where the person comes from, what political party they belong to and what they did to deserve having a Brussels edifice named after them.

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

The buildings – currently named the rather prosaic D4 and D5 – are situated on Luxembourg Square and attached with walkways to the main parliament building named Altiero Spinelli - who was an Italian anti-fascist and an advocate of European unification.

D4 has already since July been occupied by the MEPs from the extreme rightwing political group ITS and the euro-sceptic Ind/Dem group as well as the parliament's directorate-general for external affairs in some of the 375 offices.

D5, which has yet to be finished, will house 5 conference rooms and new press facilities.

The old entrance to the former Leopold Quarter Station will become a public information office while the complex also will include a museum of Europe.

The mentioning of names for the new buildings started already in 2005 when centre-right Polish MEPs tried to get the new buildings named after pope John Paul II who had recently died.

They argued the pope had contributed to the collapse of communism and the re-union of Europe.

What's in a name?

However, several liberal, socialists and green MEPs argued that the parliament building should be named after those who contributed to the foundation of the European Parliament and giving the name of a religious leader to these buildings would contradict principles of secularism.

In a recent poll on the parliaments internal network on naming the D4 building, nearly 32 percent of 324 voters favoured naming it after former German socialist chancellor and MEP from 1979-1983, Willy Brandt.

Although the poll was "utterly unserious" – as one parliament insider described it – it featured other suggestions, such as Nelson Mandela (former president of South Africa), Olof Palme (former Swedish prime minister), Karol Josef Wojtyla (pope John Paul II), Vaclav Havel (first president of the Czech Republic) and the Kaczynski Towers - after the current leaders of Poland.

The only female to be suggested was former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher, most famous in Brussels for her fight in the 1980s to get a rebate on the UK's contribution to the EU budget paid back to London by the EU.

From a new member state?

It is the parliament's body dealing with budget, administration, organisation and staff - the so-called Bureau – who will finally decide the name – or the names – of the new complex.

It was in 1998 that the body decided to start naming their work buildings after well-known European historical figures who represent the different currents of ideas which marked the initial years of European integration.

The decision of a new name is not scheduled at any of the Bureau's two meetings this week. The Bureau is composed of the president of the European Parliament along with all 14 vice-presidents and 6 consultative Quaestors.

"There will at least be one name of a person from a new member state," French green MEP Gerard Onesta told EUobserver. He explained that the Bureau has also yet to decide whether there should be one name for the whole new building complex or whether BD4, BD5 and the old station would have different names.

"I prefer a name for each building and at least one of them named after a woman," Mr Onesta added.

A parliament building in Strasbourg was in July named after the former parliament president and long-time Strasbourg mayor Pierre Pflimlin - after the name was proposed by the parliament's biggest group, centre-right EPP-ED.

Another parliament insider told EUobserver that it was about time that parliament buildings were named after persons from some of the smaller groups as the "big groups always get their people."

The other buildings in Brussels are already named after Paul Henri Spaak – a Belgian socialist politician, and Bertha Von Suttner - an Austrian writer and pacifist born in Prague and a keen believer in a united Europe as the only means of keeping the peace.

EUobserved

Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'

The victory of the Dutch EU commissioner is news across the EU, yet the Netherlands is not allowed to publish the official result until Sunday evening.

EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'

EU leaders praised Theresa May's commitment to deliver an orderly Brexit - while they now brace themselves for an even more eurosceptic British prime minister.

Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?

This is a political crisis unprecedented in Austria since the war: the resignation of the vice-chancellor, firing of the interior minister, the mass resignation of FPO ministers, a snap election, and a no-confidence vote in the Austrian parliament on Monday.

Feature

Italy train row exposes competing views of EU

A planned high-speed railway connection through the Alps between Italy and France has been highly controversial for decades and is pitting governing Italian coalition parties against each other. But the European Commission insists it must go ahead.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  2. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  3. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  4. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  5. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  6. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  7. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  8. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us