‘It’s become hellish’: Brussels residents fight against EU construction project largesse (VIDEO)
The latest plan, costing an estimated half a billion euros, involves rebuilding the EU parliament building in the very heart of the city. While the current EU parliament building is less than 25 years old, plans to refurbish it or rebuild it entirely have been circulating for some time, as the glass and concrete structure has been deemed unsafe according to the latest EU safety regulations.
In June, Politico reported the draft plan to rebuild the structure as opposed to reinforcing it. Previously, the cost of replacement for the Paul-Henri Spaak building, which itself cost some €1 billion (US$1.2bn) to build, had been placed at €430 million.
The plan caused public outrage and was postponed, but residents of the adjacent Léopold quarter have become determined to put an end to it altogether. At this week’s meeting, local architect Marco Schmitt said while the eurocrats aim “to create a nice environment for the EU institutions”, the result is that they “spoil it for everyone, and confirm the citizens’ view of them as out of touch and deaf to our concerns,” Euractiv reported.
The EU already owns dozens of buildings across the Belgian capital, such as the Europa building which is the residency of the EU Council, costing taxpayers €321 million, and the EU Commission headquarters, sometimes nicknamed the “Berlaymonster”, which cost €399 million. Brussels residents told RT they were getting sick of all these extravagant building developments.
“It often happens during public holidays,” one local resident told RT. “It’s annoying, because you expect to see fewer people on the streets and clear roads, but that’s the time they decide to do all the construction work, and it creates traffic chaos.”
Traffic jams caused by the building works seemed to be the main concern of people in Brussels. “There are construction sites everywhere, and before one finishes they’ve already started another and it causes huge traffic jams, which means that we are almost always late,” added a bus driver.
“It’s become hellish over the past couple of years. There is work going on everywhere in the city and construction sites are all over the place. We are fed up with this. It is a big city, and it is really difficult to get around in Brussels,” said another local. Eurosceptic parties too have criticized the construction, calling it a misuse of public money from the EU’s bloated budget.
“Unfortunately, EU citizens have a lot more on their minds than buildings being built in Brussels,” said William Dartmouth of the UK Independence Party.
“But I think if they got to know about it properly and if this does go ahead, I think that most EU citizens, particularly those in the southern Mediterranean states who are having a very difficult time at the moment will be less enthusiastic, let me put it that way!”
“I would urge the Commission to think again. Just stop these ridiculous plans! They’re more interested in building up their European super-state, which includes lots and lots of big buildings, than they are with the welfare and well-being of the citizens of the EU member states.”
The EU has previously been criticized for both overspending and misspending of public funds. According to the Eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe, the multinational body once gave Austrian farmers €16,394 to increase their “emotional connection with the landscapes they cultivate,” €5.25m for a fleet of limousines for the use of MEPs in Strasbourg, €1.6 million to the King of Sweden to cover his financial losses, as well as funding a bizarre scheme to encourage people to learn languages through “virtual” swimming.