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Thursday, January 13, 2011

How many eurocrats does it take to open a visitors centre?

...apparently, a lot them.

Opening a visitors centre should be a fairly simple matter one would think. But not so. The European Parliament's planned centre is already three years behind schedule and spiralling costs look set to go 35% over the original budget (some estimates even claim twice the orginal cost).

The ambitious centre had an initial budget of €15.3m, but €23m has already been paid out since 2007 and it’s not even finished yet. EU officials now claim that they can finish the job for a hefty €31.6m. Good use of taxpayers’ cash? Hmm…

European Voice quotes Parliament officials admitting they have little expertise in projects of this scope. “It would have been better” to have hired external specialists to set up the centre, says Francesca Ratti, former director-general for communication in the Parliament's secretariat. The Parliament simply lacked the capacity to manage this hugely complex project, she said.

Isabelle Durant, a Belgian Green MEP and vice-president of the Parliament, who is in charge of the project is hitting back: “Yes, it is expensive, but the costs are justified” (sure they are...)

We're now being assured that the centre will open this year, but seriously, how difficult can it be - it's not like this is the Galileo project....

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