Sunday

24th Mar 2019

EU quarter in Brussels set to grow

  • The Berlaymont - the commission's main building (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

With thousands more officials in Brussels since the EU has hugely expanded in recent years, the small Belgian capital's European quarter is to grow even bigger.

The accession of 12 new member states in the last three years has increased the current commission staff of 22.000 people by around an extra 3,350, pushing its office space needs up by 35,000m².

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 European commission's facilities already occupy around 865,000m² space in Brussels, spread over 61 buildings which it owns or rents.

Most of these are currently situated in what is known as the European Quarter of Brussels - but only two of them – the main Berlaymont building and the Charlemagne building – are larger than 50,000m².

The commission must use its office space more efficiently and adjust better to financial constraints and long-term planning, commissioner Siim Kallas, in charge of administrative affairs, said when presenting the project on Wednesday (5 September).

The practical result is that future buildings will be higher than the current imposing multi-storey EU buildings that house commissioners and all their staff and officials.

Under the new plan, the Commission will occupy some 400,000m² in office space in the perimeter of the European District, while around 180,000m² will be spared for housing, shops and equipment. This would mean both rebuilding most of the area and using some of the existing facilities.

Commission buildings will also be decentralised in a maximum of three other areas in Brussels in order to avoid a "ghetto effect" in the European Quarter, said Charles Picque, minister-president of the Brussels-Capital region when co-presenting the project.

Asked whether the plan would mean building new skyscraper types of buildings in Brussels, Mr Picque excluded this possibility. The new buildings would be "higher than now", but "far from [being] skyscrapers", he said.

In order to complete the project, the European Commission will launch an international architectural planning competition which it hopes to finalise by the end of 2009.

Officials were reluctant say how much the whole project would cost, pointing out only that the expenditures would remain within the limits of the 2007-2013 EU budget.

In 2007, the European commission's budget for buildings expenditure is €207.49 million.

Magazine

Brussels: An EU capital in the making

Brussels became the EU's capital by accident rather than design. The sprawling EU quarter is an ugly testament to this fact. Yet change is underway.

Agenda

Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK

The UK parliament will likely hold a third vote on the Brexit withdrawal deal next week, determining the UK's departure from the bloc. In the meantime, the controversial copyright reform will be on the EU parliament's agenda.

EUobserved

Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

EU commissioners campaigning for a national post have to take a leave of absence - while those running for an EU job do not. This distinction undermines the effort to close the gap between EU and national politics.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Agenda

Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK

The UK parliament will likely hold a third vote on the Brexit withdrawal deal next week, determining the UK's departure from the bloc. In the meantime, the controversial copyright reform will be on the EU parliament's agenda.

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. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us