Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Who uses a 14 degree sauna? And who pays €5 million for it?

This is from weekly magazine New Europe:

We're reported on this before, but this is worth another comment. Plans are underway in Brussels to build a €5 million health and fitness complex for MEPs. In good old MEP fashion, this will be no ordinary swimming pool or gym. Rather, MEPs will in future enjoy a state of the art ‘aqua gym’. Apparently the complex will include the first 'green' sauna, which will be powered exclusively by solar energy. There's a problem of course - the temperature in the sauna is only expected to reach 14 degrees, begging the question: who in the world uses a sauna that isn't even hot? Only in Brussels...

The MEPs will however be able to work up a sweat and offset their carbon footprint in the gym. There are plans to connect the gym’s exercise bikes and treadmills to the European Parliament's power grid to generate electricity. So not only will the MEPs be burning calories, they will be producing energy for the EU. What will this energy reserve be used for? According to the article, "it is hoped that the power generated could be used to beam pro-Europe messages from a beacon in Place Luxembourg". Then, when they finish promoting the EU through their tough workout in the gym, deputies and their office staff can relax in the steam baths.

Gerard Onesta, a French Green party member & EP Vice-President suggested that the proposed fitness facilities would be cost effective as they would reduce staff absenteeism by up to 30% (where in the world does he get that number from??). Judging by the ranking* over MEPs' attendence published last week, it is clear that some MEPs need motivating to go to Parliament, but this strikes us as a bit bizarre and wasteful. Particularly as there is a gym in the Parliament already...

*Unfortunately the ranking on http://blog.parlorama.eu is no longer available, due to the volume of complaints received from MEPs. The idea of allowing voters to see how their MEPs are performing and what they're up to is still a very controversial idea in the European Parliament.

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