EU to give Strasbourg a miss following ceiling collapse

The European Parliament has been forced to move its first session of the autumn to Brussels following the collapse of part of the roof of its home in the French town of Strasbourg, officials said Thursday, dpa reported.

Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering decided on the move on the basis of expert reports, a statement from the parliament said.

On August 7, part of the suspended ceiling above the chamber of deputies in Strasbourg fell in. Nobody was injured in the collapse, which happened during the parliament's summer break.

The ceiling is now under repair "with a completely new suspension technique, already approved by independent experts and local construction authorities, being used," the statement said.

Parliament's second session in late September should take place in Strasbourg as planned, it said.

Since 1979, members of the European Parliament and Commission have regularly left Brussels to hold meetings in Strasbourg - a city on the border between France and Germany which the two countries often fought over - as a symbol of Franco-German reconciliation.

The relocation of September's first session is unlikely to cause many tears in Brussels, where the monthly move to Strasbourg is widely reviled as a waste of time and money.

The regular move of Brussels officials to Strasbourg and back is estimated to cost 200 million euros (295 million dollars) per year.

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