I thought I was in for a calm day at the office. Just three visitors groups, two columns and a couple of meetings. Wrong thinking…

The day was dominated by a revelation that the City of Strasbourg has allegedly rented some of its premises to the European Parliament at an inflated prize.

We had an extraordinary meeting of CoCoBu, the Budgetary Control Committee, to deal with the matter.

It turns out that we have apparently paid at least 2,7 million euros a year over the market prize for a couple of our buildings in Strasbourg.

Consequently CoCoBu decided to do the following:

1. Freeze the possible purchase of the buildings (this was in the pipeline).

2. Freeze all rental payments until further enquiries have been made.

3. Postpone the discharge of the European Parliament’s finances fort he year 2004 (a report which was supposed to be voted on Thursday).

4. Establish a working group to investigate what has actually happened.

5. Issue a press statement with information about how we intend to proceed.

The situation is interesting, not least because the European Parliament has always thought that Strasbourg bent backwards to make sure that the financial implications of the gravy train remained as small as possible. But alas…