The A section of the Paul Henri Spaak Building of the European Parliament in Brussels, which contains the hemicycle and the press facilities, will remain closed for at least six more months while repairs are carried out, according to an estimate released today (9 October) by the Parliament administration.
The section has been closed since late August when an inspection report of the building revealed cracked beams supporting the ceiling. A number of studies carried out since then have revealed that there is a weak spot in one of the beams that caused it to crack. After the first beam cracked, two others followed.
A shoring structure guaranteeing the stability of the structure has been put in place, and the Parliament says the building is in no danger of collapse. Nevertheless, the cracks will need to be repaired.
The Parliament is now working with two building consultancies and the Belgian Public Buildings Agency to draw up a work plan for repair. These works are expected to take at least six months, but could take longer. The consultancies are expected to finish their assessment of how to repair the structure by the end of the year.
The structural problems have not affected the B and C sections of the building. Staff normally based in the A section have been moved to other offices. No decision has yet been taken on what will happen to the mini-plenaries that normally take place in the Brussels hemicycle. Some MEPs have suggested that Strasbourg plenary sessions could be expanded to make up the difference.