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Brussels, 02 September 2004

Description of the Berlaymont

1. Dimensions

The BERLAYMONT building has a total surface area of 241,515 m², on an area of 29.336 m² (3 hectares). It is divided up as follows:

  • Basement: 111,206 m² on 4 levels
  • Above ground: 130,309 m² of which 104,267 m² are offices, conference rooms, foyer, corridor and 7,168 m² of technical rooms and 18,874 m² for diverse use (ground floors and "Press" area)

The Berlaymont building is designed in the form of a cross and has a specific technical and organisational character. Examples are the large size of the conference rooms, reception areas, corridors, the existence of large patios, etc. These areas can therefore not be compared with similar areas in other buildings. The style deliberately adopted is one of functional simplicity.

2. Composition

  • In basement (-1 to -4):
  • Four car park levels for 1,223 vehicles
  • Technical area, Press and Media
  • Technical rooms
  • Storage and archives
  • SNCB tunnel and drainage.
  • Ground floor:
  • Entrance Halls (officials, VIP, visitors) and Piazza (open space)
  • VIP entrance with protected vehicular access
  • Self-service restaurant (760 places, 2,000 meals)
  • Cafeteria (418 places)
  • Kitchens and launderettes
  • Esplanade
  • Standard floors (+ 1 to + 12):
  • 6 entry halls, divided on two floors each
  • 6 conference rooms (on the rue Stévin side), conference table with space for 35 people
  • listening room with space for 18 people
  • 3 interpreters’ cabins and a control room on two floors
  • 6 internal gardens (on the rue de la Loi side), spread out over two floors
  • the offices are composed of removable partitions and organised according to modules of 1,20 m.
  • Areas organised according to the town planning plan (including technical empty areas, drainage areas and rail tunnel under the building)
  • 13th floor including:
  • the conference room of the Commission (table for 35 people, 18 participants in listening area, 8 administrative assistants, 5 interpreters’ cabins and one control room)
  • the conference room of the Chefs de Cabinet ( table for 35 people, 18 participants in listening area, 4 administartive assistants, 4 interpreters’cabins with possibility of 3 additional cabins and one control room) offices made up of removable partitions
  • the facilities for the official activities of the Commission:
  • the principal dining room (40 people, 3 interpreters’ cabins and 1 control room)
  • 4 dining rooms (4 x 10 people)
  • the dining room of the President (10 people)
  • the Kitchen.
  • 14th floor: technical facilities.
  • The building will be served by 45 lifts and 12 escalators.

3. Composition of the "Press"area

The press area is mainly made up of a new building adjacent to the

Tower (on the rue Stevin side). It is composed of:

  • Press room (294 places, 21 interpreters’ cabins and control room)
  • Conference room "7.50" (60 places and 40 fixed ear-phones, 19 interpreters’s cabins and control room, with possibility of 2 additional cabins)
  • Conference room "2.50" (60 places and 40 fixed ear-phones, 13 interpreters’ cabins and control room)
  • 2 broadcasting studios and 6 translation booths
  • Cinema (44 places)
  • Videoconference room (58 places with 3 interpreters’ cabins)
  • Multimedia centre (local and central control rooms)

4. Offices

Offices are organised according to modules which are 1.2 m wide. A standard office is two modules wide at the front. According to the architecture of the building and according to the location of an office (in a wing or in the centre), the depth varies from 6 m to 6.60 m (measured distance from the corridor partition to the window).

It should be noted that the area of an office in the curved parts (centre) are slightly bigger (11 %) than the surface of an office in the wings. The area of a standard individual office is therefore:

  • 2.40 m x 6.60 m = 15.84 m² in the corridor parts
  • 2.40 m x 6.00 m + 11% = 15.98 m² in the curved parts


The offices of the 13th floor corridor parts have an area of 13.51 m².

5. Capacity of accomodation

The capacity of accommodation of the Berlaymont is 2020 people maximum when the Commission moves in. In addition, without having a specific office in the Tower, a significant number of people will also work within the building.

One can quote:

  • security guards, postmen and receptionists (± 25)
  • drivers (± 25)
  • the personnel of the restaurant and of the cafeteria (± 50)
  • the personnel of the protocol restaurant (± 10)
  • interpreters (± 190)
  • the maintenance technicians (± 45)
  • the technicians of the Press and Media centre (± 20)
  • the rooms of the Press area (± 450).

6. Terms of purchase

The Commission’s share of the renovation cost is set at € 503.3 million, including € 35.6 million for additional works requested by the Commission to ensure that the building will be suitable for an enlarged EU. As agreed in 1997, the Commission will acquire the Berlaymont building structure for the fixed sum of € 49.6 million, and the land for the symbolic sum of €1. This translates into a Net Present Value of the Berlaymont building and plot of € 552 879 207

Starting in 2005, the Commission will pay fixed annual instalments over a period of 27 years with a 2% annual step-up as is commonly provided for in real estate contracts of this type. The first annual instalment will amount to € 31 891 235, subject to all the works being delivered on time. This translates into a Net Present Value of the Berlaymont building and plot of € 552 879 207, financed by the Belgian State at an interest rate of 5.37%. The fact that the Belgian State is raising the long-term financing is an important operational guarantee.

7. Delivery deadlines

  • 31 December 2003: basic building, including all the main office surfaces;
  • 31 March 2004: all other works required to prepare the physical infrastructure for enlargement;
  • 30 June 2004: the multi-media equipment.

8. Financial details and legal agreements

  • Payment will be by annual instalments over 27 years. The first of these will be paid one year after the day following the day on which the building is handed over.
  • The first instalment covers the entire building, although the additional works will not be delivered until 31 March 2004 and 30 June 2004.
  • The later delivery of the additional work will not stop the hand-over of the basic building being regarded as the date on which the six- and eighteen-month periods start to run, after which the Belgian State’s commitment to assuming the cost of the replacement leases ends.

On 1 January 2004 the Commission stopped paying the pre-renovation Berlaymont rent. So the hand-over date of 31 December 2003 was subject to a late-delivery penalty by which the old rent payment did not give way to the new instalment payment as long as the delay lasts.

If either of the delivery dates agreed for the additional works was not met the basic instalment was reduced by € 221 000 per month of delay until the date of the actual delivery. That reduced the instalment of that part of the building actually handed over to the Commission on 31 December 2003.

  • If the European Commission wishes to transfer its rights during the period of the lease, the Belgian State will have first option to purchase. If it chooses not to exercise this, it will have the right to the added value realised.
  • Since the Belgian State is taking care of the financing, Berlaymont 2000’s claim on the Commission arising from the lease would be transferred to the Belgian State and the instalments paid directly into the Belgian treasury.

9. Legal guarantees

Berlaymont 2000 provides all necessary commitments to the Commission on the completion of the works, the agreed deadlines and technical specifications and the approval procedures. In turn, these commitments by Berlaymont 2000 are irrevocably and unconditionally guaranteed by the Belgian State.

10. Chronology

1967: Commission moves into the Berlaymont as a tenant in the building belonging to the Belgian state.

1991: Discovery of the presence of asbestos and other hazards in the construction of the building forces the Commission to move out of the Berlaymont and its re-location into a series of buildings in Brussels. The Belgian authorities pay for this replacement accommodation (€ 34 million /year) and the Commission continues to pay rent for the Berlaymont (€ 14.62 million in 2002)

1995: Removal of asbestos begins under the responsibility of the Begian state.

1997: Belgian government, the Commission and Berlaymont 2000 SA (who manage the project on behalf of the Belgian state) sign a Memorandum of Understanding on 8 July

1998: Tendering for the renovation work begins. A consortium (EuropConstruct) between Bouyges (France) and Strabag (Germany) wins the overall contract for the site. A series of sub-contracts is launched

1999 June: the removal of asbestos is certified completed

2002: 23 October Commission, Belgian government and S.A. Berlaymont 2000 sign a convention for the acquisition of the Berlaymont.

2004: July/August : Commission signs agreement under which it takes possession of the main tower of the Berlaymont including the 13th floor. Process of verification on-going.

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