European Parliament partly closed due to roof damage
by Daniel Mason
A series of cracks in the wooden beams that support the roof of the European Parliament's plenary chamber in Brussels have forced the closure of part of the building, it was announced today.
Section A of the Paul-Henri Spaak building has been shut as a "precautionary measure" and further checks are being made after the three cracks were discovered during an inspection, according to a press statement.
In an email to staff, parliament's secretary-general Klaus Welle said the cause of the damage was not yet known. "In the interest of our colleagues, this precautionary measure exceeds the partial closure that was recommended by the experts," the email said.
Welle added that all the affected members of staff had been provided with temporary workspaces, and that computers and telephones would be available from Monday afternoon at the latest. The press entrance and media briefing room are among the areas closed.
"We are relieved that this problem has been discovered in time as a result of a rigorous inspection system," said Jaume Duch, a spokesman for the parliament. He said "strong measures" had been taken "as a matter of precaution and prevention".
No other parts of the building – which is divided into sections A, B and C – are affected and parliamentary activities will continue as normal, the statement said. Today MEPs have returned to Brussels for a week of committee meetings following the summer recess.
United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage took the opportunity to describe the incident as a "fantastic metaphor for the structural weaknesses of the European Union". He said that both the EU and the euro currency were "showing cracks".
"European democracy has already caved in because of the EU. Just look at what has happened in Greece and Italy, where unelected technocrats were put in as prime ministers," he said. The parliament's main Strasbourg chamber was closed due to a roof collapse in 2008, and Farage added: "Lightning really does strike twice."
How suitable; the sooner this insane edifice is entirely dismantled the better. It is filled with totalitarian dementia; this disease is derived from the psychotic fear and hatred of sovereign independent nations. What are these people so afraid of?
Jeremy Ross - Hornsey, London, England