Auditors tell EU to make more efficient use of buildings

14 Dec 18

European Union institutions should improve the management of their buildings to avoid unnecessary costs, auditors have urged.

Around 11% of the EU institutions’ budget – about €1bn a year – is spent on buildings, the European Court of Auditors highlighted in a report published on 13 December.

Of the total buildings cost, around two thirds concern acquisitions and rental costs while the rest is spent on maintenance, security and energy, it said.

The European Commission has the largest buildings portfolio, with more than 80% used as office space.

The auditors examined the building strategies of the five institutions with most office space – the Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice and the European Central Bank. The audit covered their buildings in Brussels, Luxembourg and Frankfurt.

They found that although the institutions manage their spending on office accommodation “efficiently”, many large projects suffer delays, which leads to additional costs.

For example, the original estimated budget for one of the phases of the extension to the European Parliament in Luxembourg – the KAD II project - was €317.5m in 2005.

“It suffered significant delays, the scale of the project was reduced, and the budget was revised in 2009 to €363m,” the report highlighted.

It added that the financing ‘mechanisms’ for large construction projects was often “unnecessarily complex”, affecting budget transparency.

The auditors said the monitoring and reporting of most buildings’ portfolios “are not adequate” and it was hard to compare building strategies and data from the institutions in Brussels and Luxembourg because they are “not fully standardised”.

They recommended that EU institutions update and formalise their building strategies and regularly update planning documents, as well as increase budgetary transparency of the use of financing mechanisms for construction projects.

It also said they should improve the consistency of data and monitoring across buildings portfolios, to make it easier for budgetary authorities to compare.

“The EU institutions should set up adequate management procedures for large construction and renovation projects by the end of 2019,” said Jan Gregor, the member of the ECA leading the report.

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