EP Vice-President says accusations about office renovations are “politically motivated”

European Parliament building in Brussels

European Parliament Vice-President and EPP Group MEP Rainer Wieland today categorically denied the accusations targeting him as the unique beneficiary of a project for office renovations in the seat of the institution in Brussels.

These accusations, launched a couple of days before the European Parliament votes for the members of its Bureau “are malicious and have a clear political intention”, said Wieland, who pointed out that “they only reflect the personal opinion” of a Green Group MEP in a draft Resolution that hasn’t even been discussed.

Wieland highlighted that all decisions concerning the creation of the Idea Lab were taken “unanimously” by the Bureau, in which all the political groups - including the Greens - are represented. He has been personally targeted as Vice-President responsible for the building policy of the Parliament, although he co-chairs this responsibility and all decisions are discussed and taken jointly by Parliament's Bureau.

In addition, he underlined that the idea of a “luxury renovation” of only his office is completely “offensive, misleading and directed to damage the reputation of the entire European Parliament”. The price was “indeed high” but the surface renovated serves as a testing area for a wider concept of offices and meeting rooms, including new integrated technology, IT, access control and security as well as innovative facility management solutions to be tested prior to a possible larger scale implementation. The costs of €1,700 per square metre for regular renovations is included in the costs of the Idea Lab such as the deconstruction of former bathrooms and storage rooms built in the 90s, resulting in an increase of 20% of the office space of the entire floor. Since Wieland’s previous office was also located on the top floor of Section E of the building, the use of his office for the location of the Idea Lab was obvious and never controversial. It was the only floor where the unused wet rooms (showers, toilets and sinks in MEPs’ offices, which are mostly unused and considered completely unnecessary today) could be removed without interruption of the water circulation on other floors.

The Bureau of the European Parliament took the decision on the renovations from the very beginning as an Idea Lab for “testing suggestions and innovations available on the office market under real conditions” at its meeting of 23 October 2019. Wieland specified that in any case, this does not imply that it will be implemented in all MEPs' offices.

“The goal is to bring the working areas in the building into the twenties of this century and even beyond in terms of sustainability, energy consumption, efficient use, safety and flexibility in order to have lower or at least more reasonable costs.”

The previous procurement procedure for furniture equipment, for example, followed the new approach in buildings policy and ended with costs that were around €1 million less than originally estimated.

The renovation project also includes the development of unused space of former storage rooms into a multi-functional room that can be booked freely and is accessible to all MEPs and administration, enabling, among other things, small meetings, lectures to small groups or high-quality broadcasts, for example interviews or press conferences. It also provides flexible use of the existing office space with individual rooms or as co-working spaces, environmentally-sound air conditioning, and the exploration of the potentials of "Intelligent Cleaning" that can save 30 percent of the current costs.

The way in which the draft Report was prepared and the timing of its publication suggest party political intentions in view of the upcoming election of the Bureau. Parliament’s Spokesperson will rightly hold back with a statement before this election decision. The EPP Group expects, however, that the Spokesperson corrects the accusations that are connected with or have arisen from the impressions created.

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The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 177 Members from all EU Member States

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