|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.23, 7.6.01, p8|
THE European Commission's former headquarters, the Berlaymont building, could be back in use for the first of a series of EU summits in Brussels.
Following the decision at the Nice summit that at least two European Council meetings a year should be held in the Belgian capital, officials are desperate to find ways of shoe-horning delegations from 15 member states and thousands of journalists into existing facilities.
They have earmarked the Berlaymont, currently being rebuilt after it was found to be riddled with asbestos a decade ago, as a potential media centre during a Danish presidency summit in autumn 2002 - even though the building is not officially due to reopen until 2003.
The Council of Ministers'Justus Lipsius building, in Rue de la Loi, is the obvious venue for the EU leaders' meetings and insiders say national delegations will almost certainly be based there.
However, there will not be enough space for all the journalists and their equipment, and Denmark has suggested the ground floor of the Berlaymont, situated just across the road from Justus Lipsius, could be opened early to house some of the 2,000 or more members of the media expected to attend.
Another possibility is that a nearby press centre being set up by the Belgian government could be lent for EU use.
In the longer-term, in an enlarged Union of up to 27 members, all agree the EU will need a more radical solution. Council chiefs and the Belgian authorities are looking at setting up a purpose-built conference centre, possibly in the Tours et Taxis site, a disused customs depot on the west of Brussels. "We are considering a number of options," said Koen Vervaeken, a Belgian foreign ministry spokesman.
Discussions on who would pay for it, however, are only just getting under way. EU leaders agreed at Nice that one summit during each presidency should be held in Brussels until the Union has 18 members, after which all
European Council meetings will be hosted in the city.The move was seen as a bargaining chip to win Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt's support for broader treaty changes, in addition to cutting the spiralling costs of holding summits in member states.
The European Commission's former headquarters, the Berlaymont building, could be back in use for the first of a series of EU summits in Brussels.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|