Next move for Commission staff at Jean Monnet building
1,900 civil servants working for the European Commission in Luxembourg will not be moved to one building following the planned closure of the Jean Monnet building in December.
The building, which was constructed in 1975, was expected to remain in use until 2005. Nevertheless, that did not stop people from being surprised when the Commission announced it would not renew its lease with the Luxembourg State. The current lease expires in December 2014.
“We should have left this building in 2005. The move is almost ten years late! This type of building is expected to last 25 years, or 30 years in exceptional circumstances," said Robert Klar, chairman of Commission staff delegation in Luxembourg.
He said that the site had been heavily discussed before 2000 and that several services had moved elsewhere as a result.
So, why leave now? The departure was prompted by the revelation that the building contains asbestos, though any risk was played down at a special meeting on Monday between a Luxembourg Trade Union and a Commission Human Resources Manager.
Attendees heard that the building's air quality was constantly monitored over asbestos claims and all precautions have been taken to ensure staff safety. “There is no risk to health. We took all necessary measures to protect personnel,” Commission spokesman in Brussels Gravili Antonio said.
Another reason for the move is cost. Gravili said the building suffered electrical faults, water leaks and heating issues, for example, as a result of its age. “These may be very expensive and it made no sense to negotiate a new lease.”
The Trade Union, however, was not convinced. Any move would come at a cost for the Commission, particularly given the high costs of real estate in Luxembourg and the lack of an appropriate building available for 1,900 staff.
A market study is currently underway to find a series of buildings which could house the workforce in Luxembourg.
Translated from an article by Maurice Fick