BRUSSELS. Diplomacy and shopping sprees, all back. The European Commission renounces buying the new residence for the ambassador to the United Nations, due to the outcry in the European Parliament. The community institution, which has the power to control the budget, did not like the intention to use common public funds for real estate operations which the community executive also tried to justify, finding only objections and controversies.
The EU External Action Service (SEA) is the Commission’s diplomatic service. He replies to the High Representative for EU foreign and security policy, currently Josep Borrell. The SEA has proposed the purchase of a 543 square meter building worth 18 million euros in the heart of Manhattan, in New York, to make it the residence of the EU representative to the UN. A choice that met with resistance from parliamentarians.
First, the ambassador, currently the Swedish Olof Skoog, already has a residence. A 279 square meter residence at the United Nations plaza, in the district that houses the UN buildings. Certainly not a studio apartment, yet according to the Seae “without enough space” for meetings and receptions, and also with a “lack of outdoor spaces” such as gardens and balconies. Explanations attached to the request for green light to the real estate operation difficult to accept. The sovereign front did not miss an opportunity to accuse Borrell’s office of wasting money.
The conservative group (Ecr), where the Brothers of Italy and the Polish sovereigns of PiS sit, send Charlie Weimers, a Swedish euro-skeptic, who asks for an account with a lot of questioning. Borrell, head of the external action service, responds only today, and first of all remembers the difference between renting and owning a property. It is true that he intends to buy a property worth 18 million euros, equal to double the current one, but the residence in use is for rent. Leaving the lease would mean facing a cost “only slightly higher, about 1.8 million euros, compared to paying the rent of the current residence”, which costs 240 thousand dollars a year. “After 25 years, there is a net benefit to the EU budget.” A clarification that may not be of use in the face of those who consider a quarter of a century to be too long a time horizon.
In any case, nothing will be done about it. “The External Action Service will not carry out this project,” says Borrell, who responds out of institutional duty and courtesy, but who does not intend to fuel clashes or controversies. Seas “informed the budgetary authority” of this. Closed chapter, therefore. The residence of the EU ambassador to the UN can wait. Maybe a cheaper real estate offer.