Berlaymont building welcomes 60,000 guests
2 May 2005
BRUSSELS – The European Union’s Berlaymont building opened its doors at the weekend to some 60,000 visitors.
Situated in the heart of Brussels’ EU quarter, the Berlaymont houses the headquarters of the EU’s executive body, the European Commission.
It was reopened last October after being closed for 13 years during which it was stripped of cancer-causing asbestos.
The 14-story, star-fish shaped structure opened its doors to the public for the first time since its 2004 re-inauguration on Saturday amid a festive atmosphere featuring musical acts and information booths highlighting the work of the Commission’s different directorates, such as combating trade in counterfeit products.
Diversions were provided both indoors and outdoors. In the building’s press room, for instance, visitors could attend a talk on the environment by Belgian explorer Alain Hubert.
Some 38,000 visitors had entered the Berlaymont building by 2 pm and some 60,000 had been counted by the end of the day, the Belga news agency reported.
The open door day extended to other EU institutions in Brussels, including the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions.
Attendance figures were unavailable for these buildings, but were estimated to be far lower.
The Berlaymont was first opened in 1967 but was shut in 1991 after asbestos was discovered within the building.
Commission staff were immediately evacuated at the time and worked in other Brussels’ buildings until the Berlaymont was finally reopened last year by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and then European Commission President Romano Prodi.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject : Belgian news