symbol of the new European common currency : the Euro.
WHY BRUSSELS ?
After the Second World War a number of European countries felt the need for
more cooperation amongst each other in order to avoid any future armed conflicts, and also
in order to avoid being overshadowed by a strong American power. This resulted in
1952 in the creation of the
European Community for coal and steel.
Already from the start the countries disagreed on which city would receive the
European organizations: France preferred the city of Saarbrücken (then in France, now
again in Germany), Luxembourg proposed its own capital city of Luxembourg, Holland choose
The Hague (Den Haag) and Belgium opted for Liège. A temporary solution was found and the
institutions were divided over Luxembourg and Strasbourg (France).
At the end of
the EEC (European Economic Community) was founded by Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg,
Germany, France and Italy. The Belgian Prime Minister Paul-Henri Spaak proposed Brussels
as seat of the European organizations. Again, no agreement was reached, and the political
institutions of the EEC were (temporarily) housed in Brussels (the European
Commission), and Strasbourg (the European Parliament). In anticipation of a report, a
decision was taken to house the administrative services of the EEC in Brussels. For this
purpose, the Belgian insurance company ROYALE BELGE, constructed offices between the
Kortenberglaan (Avenue de Kortenberg) and the Blijde Inkomstlaan (Avenue de la Joyeuse
Entrée) near the Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels.
In 1958 a vote was organized to come to a
definitive solution. Brussels was in the lead because of the improved road infrastructure
(thanks to the World Exposition which took place in Brussels in 1958), and also because of
the central location of the city and the neutral position of Belgium between the European
powers. Although Brussels won the vote after two rounds, a definitive decision was again
postponed. Furthermore, the vote resulted in the start of a system of 'compensation
policy', whereby Luxembourg and Strasbourg also received a part of the institutions.
Berlaymont building, seat of the European Commission, built in 1968. Since 1991 the
building is empty because of the presence of too much asbestos on the inside. The
renovation undertaken by the Belgian State runs into the billions of BEF
and sheduled to be finished by 2001.
In 1964 Luxembourg proposed to re-group and
re-devise the administrative services of the EEC. On May the 8th 1965
the following was decided upon : Brussels received the European Commission, the Economic and Social
committee, certain services of the European Parliament, the Secretary of the Council of
Ministers and the status of " city where the Council would gather
and function most of the time". Strasbourg kept the half-round where the plenary sessions of the
European Parliament took place. The Secretary of the European Parliament remained in
Luxembourg as well as the European Court of
Justice and the European Investment Bank.
As from 1981 numerous members of the European
Parliament started to show signs of dissatisfaction over the fact that the services of the
European Parliament were spread over the three cities Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.
On October the 24th the European Parliament decided to construct a new seat for itself in
the Quartier Léopold (Leopoldswijk) in Brussels. This decision met with strong French
opposition (France could not accept that its city of Strasbourg would no longer house the
European Parliament half-round). This was later confirmed by the European Court that
decided "that the sessions of the European Parliament in Brussels should remain
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