Cameron lashes EU over quarter-billion-euro building

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On a warpath against EU spending, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron gave an earful to the European Union on Friday over a new building costing 240 million euros ($340 million) to build.

Cameron emerged from his seventh EU summit in Brussels questioning the need for the European Council to have a new house to host heads of state and government.

"When you see a document being circulated with a great glossy brochure about some great new building for the European Council to sit in, it is immensely frustrating," he told a news conference.

"And you do wonder whether these institutions actually get what every country, what every member of the public is having to go through as we cut budgets and try to make our finances add up," Cameron said.

EU president Herman Van Rompuy told European leaders he wanted to name the new building "Europa." Under construction next to the current council headquarters, the new building is expected to be completed in 2014.

"I have, okay, only been in this building seven times in the last year, but it seems to be that it does a perfectly good job of housing the European Council," Cameron said.

"The microphones work, there's plenty of room, we can fit many more people in the great room where we will sit around and discuss, and the food isn't bad either. What's the problem, would be my question," he said.

Conceding that it was too late for him to stop the project, Cameron said he pressed upon his colleagues to "try and do this with economy and efficiency, recognising that every country in Europe is having to take those steps."

An EU official defended the expansion, saying the current building was built in 1994 when the EU only had 12 members. It has 27 members today and Croatia is expected to become the newest member in 2013 after EU leaders gave their green light.

© 2011 AFP

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