Update: Parliament confirmed to meet in Brussels for full session

The word is out that European Parliament Secretary General Harald Romer has confirmed that the coming plenary week from 1-4 September will take place in Brussels. Now is the time to fully acknowledge that one seat will do! – Sign the petition at www.oneseat.eu.

Here comes the Email to all MEPs:

Subject: Parliament’s September I session to be held exceptionally in Brussels
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2008 11:55:49 +0200
Priority: Urgent
From: “ROMER Harald”

Parliament’s September I session to be held exceptionally in Brussels due to the partial collapse of the ceiling in the Hemicycle in Strasbourg – September II session to be held as foreseen in Strasbourg

Following the preliminary results of various expert enquiries that have been conducted after the partial collapse of the ceiling in the Hemicycle in Strasbourg on 7 August 2008, President Hans-Gert PÖTTERING has today, on the basis of a recommendation by the Secretary-General and after consulting Chairmen of political groups, taken the decision to exceptionally move the holding of the September I session from Strasbourg to Brussels in view of guaranteeing the absolute security and safety of Members and staff. This decision has been taken after consultation of the French Presidency, also in view of providing continuity to the legislative work of the Institution.

Members should note that it has proved impossible to find alternative solutions in Strasbourg, guaranteeing the full language regime and normal voting facilities for Members, for the holding of the September I session.

At the moment, the reconstruction of the whole ceiling of the Hemicycle is being carried out. In practical terms this means the dismantling and installation of various parts of a very complex construction. A completely new suspension technique, already approved by the experts and local construction authorities, will be used for the new ceiling. Although all the efforts are made to advance as quickly as possible on the reconstruction and assurance of the security of the ceiling, the procedure is lengthy and it will therefore not allow for all necessary legal obligations regarding security and safety of buildings to be made prior to the holding of the September I session.

On the basis of the progress of the construction works and the efforts that are made by the services and the companies involved in the works, the September II session will be held in Strasbourg as foreseen after the necessary verifications regarding security and safety have been concluded.

Preliminary cause for the collapse of the ceiling
The preliminary enquiries have revealed that the partial collapse of the ceiling results from the breaking of the parts holding the inserted ceiling which connects it with the actual structure of the ceiling. The ongoing enquiries – conducted by several impartial and international engineering companies – will further determine the details and liabilities linked to the cause of the collapse. These enquiries are being conducted in full co-operation with the local responsible authorities and with a high-level building security expert appointed by the French government.

Members are also informed that the costs relating to the repair construction will be covered by the insurance of the LOW building, not by Parliament’s budgetary provisions. Following the final result of the enquiries, the liabilities will be established between different actors of the time of constructing the original ceiling.

Practical arrangement for the transfer of the session from Strasbourg to Brussels
An inter-service group will start meeting today in order to deal with all practical and logistical questions in relation to holding of the session in Brussels. Members are invited to rearrange their travel and hotel accommodation the earliest possible.

For the visitors’ groups invited by Members, the Visitors’ Service will apply the maximum amount of flexibility: For those visitors’ groups that are able to redirect their visit to Brussels, the Service will do their utmost to put up a programme. For the visitors’ groups who wish to maintain their planned visit to Parliament’s premises in Strasbourg (without guaranteeing the possibility of seeing the Hemicycle), the Service will assure a shorter programme. Furthermore, for the groups of visitors who would wish to postpone their visit to a later occasion, a rescheduling will be guaranteed. Members are invited to take contact with the Visitors’ Service with a view to defining the appropriate arrangements.

With any other questions related to the holding of the session in Brussels, Members can address their queries directly to the private office of the Secretary-General either by email or by phone. My office will inform the Members on any other practicalities in the near future.

Harald RØMER

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