Safety starts, here…?

Almost four years after the collapse of the ceiling in the European Parliament’s debating chamber in Strasbourg, signs of weakness have started appearing in the plenary chamber room in Brussels.

According to a letter circulated by Mr. Klaus Welle, Secretary-General of the European Parliament, cracks were discovered “in three of the wooden beams carrying the roof of the plenary chamber”. Since the causes of the cracks could not be determined, Mr. Welle took the decision to temporary close Section A of the Paul-Henri Spaak (PHS) building “until the source of the problem can be identified”.

As a result of these unknown sources at least 200 staff members in section A had to be moved to other sections of the building, the main press briefing room was closed, in addition to one of the Parliament’s largest committee rooms, the Anna Lindh Room, and of course the debating chamber.

Mr. Welle’s letter should certainly worry the 754 MEPs, 9,000 assistants and staff members, hundreds of external workers, visitors and representatives of other institutions entering daily into our building.

The building policy of the Parliament has long been an issue of dispute among MEP’s. Currently the Parliament is expending property ownership in all of its three working places: on December 2011 the Parliament approved a decision to purchase a building in Strasbourg and another two in Brussels for the cost of 38m EUR. The Parliament also plans to proceed with building a new structure in Luxembourg estimated by the cost of 804m EUR.

While many question the necessity of expending infrastructure in difficult financial times, I also wonder about the priorities of such policy. Shouldn’t safety of the current structure be granted before expending to new venues?

This question becomes more relevant taking into consideration that the building in Strasbourg opened in 1999, making it 13 years old, while the PHS building in Brussels is less than 20 years old.

Two such incidents in four years must raise warning signs and concerns as to when and where the next incident might happen.

It is therefore my true hope that the Secretary-General and his staff members take these signs seriously…

Greetings from the European Parliament,

Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg



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