The European Parliament appears to have abandoned plans for an expensive expansion of its premises in Strasbourg, according to a note obtained by EURACTIV.
The Parliament’s Bureau had intended to purchase the Osmose building, which sits next to the main Parliament building, as part of an exchange deal involving the Salvador De Madariaga building, which currently houses the offices of parliament staff.
Osmose, which offers 15,000 square metres of office space, was developed by a private contractor and completed in 2021 in the hope that the Parliament would purchase it, while the Madariaga building was to be repurposed as a hotel.
In February 2022, Clément Beaune, then France’s EU relations minister, announced that an agreement in principle had been reached for the Parliament to buy the Osmose building, and MEPs narrowly approved the purchase of the building last October.
The plan was part of an ambitious overhaul of the Parliament’s premises, including a €500 million revamp of the Paul-Henri Spaak building in Brussels, which houses the plenary chamber.
However, following a backlash from the Socialist and Green groups who criticised the idea of acquiring expensive new premises amid a cost of living crisis across Europe, the Parliament’s leadership appears to have abandoned plans to buy Osmose.
The note by the Bureau indicates that the Parliament has instead been offered a long-term lease of the Osmose building at €700,000 per year, far below what it says is a market value of renting the building of nearly €3.4 million.
“Following the advantageous proposal by the French authorities, the option to rent the building based on the market prospection is not on the table anymore,” the Bureau note states.
A final decision is expected to be made in June.
The decision to pursue the lease option was taken by a narrow majority supported by EPP, Renew and ECR.
The leftist groups continue to dispute an assessment made by the Parliament’s services that the institution needs to find an additional 12,200 square metres of office space, with the Bureau note stating that they had “requested further clarifications and information, regarding the strings attached to the very good offer by the French authorities and the real needs for additional space in Strasbourg, as well as any relevant planning for the Madariaga building, before any future negotiations with the French authorities.“
[Edited by Alice Taylor]
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