Ministers’ Deputies
CM Documents

CM(2010)155 9 November 20101

1099 Meeting, 23-25 November 2010
11 Administration and logistics

11.8 Possible sale or renting of Building B to the European Parliament
Memorandum prepared by the Directorate General of Administration and Logistics

Item to be prepard by the GR-PBA on 18 November 2010

1. Background

On 5 July 2010 the Secretary General of the European Parliament (EP) wrote to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, stating that the Bureau of the EP “expressed its interest in occupying, partly or entirely the “Building B” […] in order to house the European Ombudsman’s services”.

This letter followed a number of previous contacts in the period 2006-2008 which led to no concrete results; either because the Bureau of the EP backtracked (December 2007) or due to uncertainties from the Council of Europe side regarding the possible implementation of a third programme of reinforcement of the resources of the Court (November 2008).

Further to this letter, DGAL has had three meetings with representatives of the European Parliament in order to better assess its position. Following these meetings it appears that the EP:

    - would prefer to buy the building, but would be prepared to occupy it in full on the basis of a long rental agreement (e.g. 10 to 12 years);
    - the building must be operational (after full renovation) before the end of 2013 (renovation work would take up to 24 months at an estimated cost of M€10).

2. Office space situation of the Council of Europe

A detailed review of the office space situation of the organisation’s buildings in Strasbourg suggests that there is, at the moment, a margin-of-manoeuvre for about 150-170 additional staff (in round figures: 85 in the Agora building; 65 in the Palais de l’Europe and 20 in the Human Rights Building). It should be noted, however, that empty offices are scattered throughout the buildings and that the margin-of-manoeuvre in the Palais de l’Europe could be materialised in full only through the implementation of the new office space standards to all major administrative entities.

B-building constitutes a further reserve for additional 200 staff but its occupation would require full renewal (approximate cost M€10).

3. Legal situation of B building

B-building, and the land it is built upon, belong to the Council of Europe.

The City of Strasbourg has pre-emptive rights on the possible sale for uses other than by an “European institution”, which would not be the case if B-building is sold to the EP. For various reasons (e.g. building licence), it would be necessary to inform and get an agreement from the City of Strasbourg prior to any decision to rent or sell.

4. Selling or renting: advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives

There are both potential advantages and disadvantages in both solutions. One common element, however is that keeping the building unoccupied generates maintenance costs (approximately € 30,000 per year) and leads, progressively, to a further deterioration of the building with additional maintenance costs for the future.

5. Proposed action

Against this background, the Committee of Ministers is invited to authorise the Secretary General to open detailed discussions with the European Parliament with a view to the possible selling or renting of B-building, on the understanding that the final decision on this matter would be subjected to the prior agreement of the Committee of Ministers.

Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue; it will be declassified in accordance with Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.


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