– European Parliament opens £15.5 million temple to MEPs (Telegraph, Sep. 23, 2011)
The European Parliament has been accused of “self-glorification” after defying national austerity cuts by opening a £15.5 million high-technology “parlamentarium” to showcase the work of MEPs.
Jerzy Buzek, the parliament’s president, insisted that the project, which targets school students, was needed to show the relevance of MEPs at a time when the EU was threatened by the eurozone crisis.
“The exhibition shows that Europe has come a long way – surviving two world wars, reuniting a divided continent and now sharing a joint political project which, I am convinced, will thrive and prevail over the challenges we face today,” he said.
Officials claim that the Brussels visitors centre will give “a unique insight into the work of MEPs and how their work touches your daily life” when it opens in a fortnight’s time.
The “parlamentarium” is focused around a 360 degree projection of the EU assembly’s debating chamber and includes a 2.5 hour role-play game for secondary school pupils, using the latest computer technology and contributions from over 400 actors to create a virtual world experience of life as an MEP.
“Students will learn the art of compromise, which is fundamental to success in European politics,” said a parliament document.
Martin Callanan MEP, leader of the European Conservatives, said: “The money could surely have been spent on something more worthwhile than this shiny new temple for the glorification of the European project.”
Marta Andreasen, a Ukip MEP and member of the parliament’s budgetary control committee attacked a “shambolic waste of money” driven by “vanity”.
“The parliamentarium was completed, like so many other parliament projects, over the original budget and late,” she said.
The parliament also faces controversy over its plan for a £90 million “European House of History”, to be built by 2014, despite an argument over fundamental historical events, such as what happened during the Second World War.