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Berlaymont opens its doors

Published on 22/10/2004

22 October 2004

BRUSSELS – The European Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters has finally opened its doors after 13 years of delay and controversy.

Outgoing Commission President Romano Prodi and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt took part in the opening ceremony on Thursday.

They chose to gloss over the extensive delays and spiralling costs of the renovation project, which have given the building its ‘Berlaymonster’ nickname.

According to the Belga news agency, the final cost of the renovation works reached EUR 1.38 billion, of which EUR 629 million was charged to the Belgian taxpayer.

The building was originally closed when asbestos was found on the premises.

But the Berlaymont’s dark past was forgotten on Thursday, with both Prodi and Verhofstadt talking of a glowing new era for EU integration.

“This moment marks a new stage in the harmonious integration of the European institutions in Brussels,” said Verhofstadt.

Prodi congratulated those who had been involved in the renovation work.

He said the European Commission had always been made to feel welcome by Belgium and Brussels.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news