EU gives Strasbourg a miss after ceiling collapse

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The European Parliament will move its first September session to Brussels following the ceiling collapse of its building in the French town of Strasbourg.

21 August 2008

BRUSSELS - The European Parliament said Thursday it will hold its first September session in Brussels instead of Strasbourg where part of its chamber ceiling collapsed.

The unprecedented move was announced by parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering after it became clear that the ceiling in the Strasbourg building would not be fixed in time and the safety of the 785 lawmakers could not be guaranteed.

The parliament splits its work between the EU headquarters in Brussels and Strasbourg, France. The 500-kilometre commute between the two cities is a result of France's insistence on housing an EU institution - and costs taxpayers more than EUR 200 million a year.

The legislature is obliged by EU treaties to hold all of its regular sessions in Strasbourg, a source of discontent among the lawmakers, many of whom would prefer it to conduct all of its business in Brussels.

The ceiling in the massive auditorium crumbled on 7 Aug during the summer recess. No one was injured.

The parliament said the beams holding the suspended ceiling broke off the main structure, resulting in a gradual collapse of ceiling panels.

The accident is still being investigated, it said.

[AP / Expatica]

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