On 3 September 2012 access to our Brussels plenary chamber (the hemicycle) was sealed off. Restraining signs were placed outside the chamber, guarded by a security personnel, which was aimed at preventing curious passers-by from sneaking a peek into the room.
The decision to close the hemicycle and its nearest surroundings in the Paul- Henri Spaak (PHS) building was taken after cracks were discovered in 3 of the 21 structural beams above the plenary hall.
Reconstruction and repair work lasted for almost two years. During this period it was impossible to hold mini-sessions in Brussels, because we have no room big enough to seat 766 MEPs, members of the Commission and the representatives of the Council.
In April this year, the doors to the hemicycle will re-open. That would be the last time in our current legislature.
This pleasing occasion raises few questions with Members, who struggle to identify traces of the reconstruction work both inside and outside the room.
The Single Seat MEP Alliance, to which I belong, has been advocating fiercely for ending the absurd 3-days monthly journeys to Strasbourg, instead replacing them with permanent sessions in Brussels.
Strangely, cracks were found in the EP ceiling in Brussels just as we registered a series of successful votes in the plenary that would allow us to achieving our goal.
What is even more peculiar is the fact that after the 2008 collapse of the ceiling in the Strasbourg hemicycle, (luckily during the holiday period when no one was present), no-one seems to have bothered about the other failing pieces of construction in the building.
Cracks in the walls, floors and staircases, peeled-off paint on the walls and protection nets in public areas. Yet nobody is worried…
Greetings from the European Parliament
Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg
See my previous posts on this issue: