The EU institutions occupy roughly 2 million m² in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg. The Commission, for its part, occupies almost 1 million m² in Brussels and Luxembourg.
The EU institutions occupy roughly 2 million m² of office space in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg. The Commission occupies almost 1 million m² in Brussels and Luxembourg.
Owing to the long-lasting uncertainty about the Commission’s permanent location, a real policy on real estate only appeared with the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997. EU member countries confirmed Brussels as the headquarters of the Commission, and we could begin to consider purchasing office space outright.
In 2003, two services in Brussels and Luxembourg were created to improve real estate management. As a number of lease contracts will expire by 2025, the estimated cumulated space deficit in Brussels will increase considerably. This poses a real challenge for the building policy of the Commission. My aim is to make sure that Commission staff have sufficient and well-equipped office space to fulfil its work.
The Buildings Policy Communication
The new Communication on buildings policy introduced 3 key novelties:
1) long-term planning of the Commission's space needs;
2) improved competition via a new procurement methodology aimed to ensure best value for money and market transparency;
3) tighter co-operation amongst the Commission's most concerned departments.
The fundamental principles are:
- high quality architectural design, in particular for flagship projects, to make a positive and symbolic statement regarding the Commission's presence in Brussels and Luxembourg. This means looking for highly efficient buildings and using international architectural competitions for all major developments.
- Integration into the urban environment to facilitate an appropriate mix between office, residential and commercial property, while taking security and image considerations fully into account.
- comfortable, safe and healthy work environment.
- better access for people with disabilities
- presence of high-quality social infrastructure (such as European Schools, nurseries, after-school child-minding facilities) close to offices and/or main places of residence of staff.
- reduction of the Commission’s carbon footprint, by promoting building design that integrates sustainable materials and energy efficiency, better links to public transport networks and greater synergies in terms of building management.
The Commission's ultimate goal is to work from fewer but more efficient buildings and ensure the best use of taxpayers' money.
Situation on Brussels:
The note on buildings policy confirms the European Quarter as our location in Brussels, with up to 3 other sites – each in principle of at least 100 000 m².
However, there is a need to go further and discussions with regional authorities have enabled a move towards a restructuring of the European Quarter.
According to the long-term plan, the Commission will need to replace a substantial amount of office space in Brussels over the next decade, mainly due to lease expiries
To meet these needs, the long-term planning relies on two projects:
- the refurbishment of the European Quarter;
- the search for new office site(s) outside the European quarter.
The search for a new decentralised office site(s)
In 2007 the Commission confirmed its policy concerning decentralised office sites. In order to reach as many market players as possible and ensure full transparency, a request for information was published in the Official Journal in 2008. Nine responses were submitted.
An assessment committee analysed the technical/operational quality of all sites based on their potential size, possible functions, location (in relation to the European Quarter, schools, day-care and the areas where most staff live), accessibility, timing of construction, environmental aspects, legal aspects and price.
Based on the result of the assessments, in October 2009 the College empowered Vice-President Siim Kallas to officially start negotiations with the Brussels Capital Region for the Delta site, with a view to presenting a final proposal to the College for a possible decision in 2010. Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič will ensure the follow-up of this mandate.
The Commission places great importance on maintaining a high quality dialogue with its stakeholders, notably the Belgian authorities (federal, regional and communal), Luxembourg authorities and the other institutions. Contacts with the Belgian authorities will continue mainly through the Task Force Europe Brussels. With regard to the other institutions, the Commission will continue promoting enhanced and improved interinstitutional cooperation.
Situation in Luxembourg
In Luxembourg, the Plateau de Kirchberg has been confirmed as the main location for the Commission. Replacing the existing Jean Monnet Building is the main element in the real estate strategy in Luxembourg.
Another element is the development of the second site in Gasperich (south of Luxembourg City).
European Quarter - Brussels
New urban design for the European Quarter
The authorities of the Brussels-Capital Region, in close partnership with the European Commission and the City of Brussels, launched a major competition in 2008 (IP/08/552) aimed at defining a new urban design for the European Quarter. The area devoted to the competition includes the zone around the rue de la Loi, between the inner ring road and the chaussée d’Etterbeek.
In 2009 an international, interdisciplinary team composed of Christian de Portzamparc (France), Jacques Wirtz (Belgium), Coteba Belgium and OVE ARUP (UK) was selected from thirty-five projects as the winner.
The goal of this competition was to create an urban design with a strong symbolic identity, featuring convivial public spaces, priority for non-motorised mobility and public transport, and buildings of high environmental quality and architectural value.
The project is in keeping with the objectives defined by the recent Master Plan for the European Quarter. It aims to transform the zone into an eco-district combining the first European and international administrative site in the region, diversified housing as well as cultural and leisure spaces. In addition, it responds to the stated goal, as expressed jointly by the regional authorities and the Commission, of reorganising the buildings of the Commission so that they occupy both sides of the Rue de la Loi, while encouraging significant functional and social diversity.
This ambitious project of refitting envisages a rationalisation and concentration of the presence of the Commission along the rue de la Loi. It implies that the office area occupied by the Commission in the zone will increase by about 230 000 m² (from 170 000 m² to 400 000 m²), subject to the relinquishment of an equivalent amount of m² in Commission buildings in adjacent areas.