Charlemagne building

The Charlemagne building is a high-rise in the European Quarter of Brussels, which houses the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, the Directorate-General for Trade and, since 2015, the Internal Audit Service of the Commission.

The building has 3 wings and 15 floors. It is located at 170 Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat, in the City of Brussels, one of the 19 municipalities forming the Brussels-Capital Region. The postal code for the municipality is 1000, but the postal code for the European Commission is 1049.

Charlemagne building
Charlemagne building - August 2008
General information
LocationBrussels, Belgium
Coordinates50°50′37″N 4°22′49″E / 50.84365°N 4.38031°ECoordinates: 50°50′37″N 4°22′49″E / 50.84365°N 4.38031°E
Construction started1967
OwnerEuropean Commission
Technical details
Floor count15
Design and construction
ArchitectJacques Cuisinier
Other information
Number of rooms3 conference rooms


The building was designed by Jacques Cuisinier and constructed in 1967 at the same time as the Berlaymont Building to group together more scattered departments of the European Commission. However, with the Commission refusing to share the Berlaymont with the Council of the European Union, Charlemagne was given to the Council's secretariat in 1971. This had previously been located in the city centre.[1]

Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F046067-0010, EG-Gebäude, Haus Charlemagne, Sitz EG-Ministerrat
The Charlemagne building in 1975, before its modern renovation

The Council moved out to the Justus Lipsius building in 1995 allowing it to be renovated. The renovation was completed in 1998 by Helmut Jahn, replacing the largely concrete exterior with a glass one. After the restoration it was occupied by the Commission, further grouping the Union's offices around the Schuman roundabout.[1]

It was briefly considered as the future HQ of the European External Action Service, established in 2010, but was discounted on image grounds; as it houses RELEX, people would see the EEAS as a RELEX-plus rather than a unique body outside of the Commission.[2]

See also

See also


  1. ^ a b European Commission Publication: Europe in Brussels, 2007.
  2. ^
Alexandre Dang

Alexandre Dang (born 19 May 1973 in Strasbourg, France) is a French visual artist. He lives and works currently in Brussels, Belgium.

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was a proposed multinational treaty for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement. The agreement aims to establish an international legal framework for targeting counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet, and would create a new governing body outside existing forums, such as the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the United Nations.

The agreement was signed in October 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States. In 2012, Mexico, the European Union and 22 countries that are member states of the European Union signed as well. One signatory (Japan) has ratified (formally approved) the agreement, which would come into force in countries that ratified it after ratification by six countries.

Industrial groups with interests in copyright, trademarks and other types of intellectual property said that ACTA was a response to "the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works". Organizations such as the Motion Picture Association of America and International Trademark Association are understood to have had a significant influence over the ACTA agenda.Organisations representing citizens and non-governmental interests argued that ACTA could infringe fundamental rights including freedom of expression and privacy. ACTA has also been criticised by Doctors Without Borders for endangering access to medicines in developing countries. The secret nature of negotiations has excluded civil society groups, developing countries and the general public from the agreement's negotiation process and it has been described as policy laundering by critics including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Entertainment Consumers Association.

The signature of the EU and many of its member states resulted in widespread protests across Europe. European Parliament rapporteur Kader Arif resigned. His replacement, British MEP David Martin, recommended that the Parliament should reject ACTA, stating: "The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties". On 4 July 2012, the European Parliament declined its consent, effectively rejecting it, 478 votes to 39, with 165 abstentions.

Berlaymont building

The Berlaymont (French pronunciation: ​[bɛʁlɛmɔ̃]) is an office building in Brussels, Belgium, that houses the headquarters of the European Commission, which is the executive of the European Union (EU). The structure is located at Schuman roundabout at Wetstraat 200 Rue de la Loi, in what is known as the "European Quarter". The unique form of the Berlaymont's architecture is utilised in the European Commission's official emblem.

Breydel building

The Breydel building is an office block in the European Quarter of Brussels (Belgium) that served as a temporary headquarters for the European Commission between 1991 and 2004.

The seat of the Commission, the symbolic Berlaymont building, was in dire need of renovation due to the discovery of asbestos in its construction. A new building was rapidly needed to house President and his college of Commissioners, as the issue of the location of European Union institutions was being discussed and any delays could lead to the Commission withdrawing from the city.

Plans for the building were already being prepared by the bank BACOB due to the rapidly expanding needs of the Commission, though the entire block would be needed to house the 1300 civil servants and auxiliary services. Foreseeing this, developers had bought a block of houses each on the area to ensure they all received a slice of the pie when the land was bought up. The main building was ready just in time for the transfer of Commission staff at the end of 1991, and expansion continued through the 1990s.

The President and most of the Commission moved back to the Berlaymont when renovation was completed in 2004, however the Commission has bought the building when it moved in (one of the first times it bought a building rather than rented it) and it is still a Commission building today, housing the Directorate-General for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs and the Directorate-General for Budget.

The building was designed by André and Jean Polak, who designed the Berlaymont, together with Marc Vanden Bossche and Johan Van Dessel. It took just 23 months to build.

Brussels and the European Union

Brussels in Belgium is considered the de facto capital of the European Union, having a long history of hosting the institutions of the European Union within its European Quarter. The EU has no official capital, and no plans to declare one, but Brussels hosts the official seats of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, and European Council, as well as a seat (officially the second seat but de facto the most important one) of the European Parliament.

Convent Van Maerlant

The Convent Van Maerlant is a former convent which consists of a church and a Chapel (Chapelle de la Résurrection) on Rue Van Maerlantstraat in Brussels (Belgium).

In 1905, a compulsory purchase order for land for the Central railway station was made on the Rue des Sols, and this included the Brussels convent of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, the chief Eucharistic Order started in 1844 by the daughter of the Chairman and founder of the Société Générale. The original chapel was built in 1435 in the authority of a Papal Bull, and was renovated in the 1780s: the convent itself was converted from a Ducal town house in the early 1850s. As a result, a very similar building was needed, and built, in the early 1900s: the chapel was virtually identical to the original, which survived for another 45 years, only finally being demolished in 1955. Falling vocations meant the convent was closed in the early 1980s and after standing derelict for nearly 20 years, the convent was acquired to become the central library of the European Commission. This is the only pre-Second World War building to be left standing in the area after the entry of European institutions.

Council of the European Union

The Council of the European Union, referred to in the treaties and other official documents simply as the Council is the third of the seven Institutions of the European Union (EU) as listed in the Treaty on European Union. It is part of the essentially bicameral EU legislature (the other legislative body being the European Parliament) and represents the executive governments of the EU's member states. It is based in the Europa building in Brussels.The Council of the European Union and the European Council are the only EU institutions that are explicitly intergovernmental, that is forums whose attendees express and represent the position of their member state's executive, be they ambassadors, ministers or heads of state/government.

Democratic peace theory

Democratic peace theory is a theory which posits that democracies are hesitant to engage in armed conflict with other identified democracies. In contrast to theories explaining war engagement, it is a "theory of peace" outlining motives that dissuade state-sponsored violence.

Some theorists prefer terms such as "mutual democratic pacifism" or "inter-democracy nonaggression hypothesis" so as to clarify that a state of peace is not singular to democracies, but rather that it is easily sustained between democratic nations.Among proponents of the democratic peace theory, several factors are held as motivating peace between democratic states:

Democratic leaders are forced to accept culpability for war losses to a voting public;

Publicly accountable statespeople are inclined to establish diplomatic institutions for resolving international tensions;

Democracies are not inclined to view countries with adjacent policy and governing doctrine as hostile;

Democracies tend to possess greater public wealth than other states, and therefore eschew war to preserve infrastructure and resources.Those who dispute this theory often do so on grounds that it conflates correlation with causation, and that the academic definitions of 'democracy' and 'war' can be manipulated so as to manufacture an artificial trend.

Directorate-General for External Relations (European Commission)

The Directorate-General for the External Relations (DG RELEX, DG E VIII) was a Directorate-General of the European Commission, responsible for the external policy. The DG was merged into the European External Action Service in 2010, then headed by High Representative Catherine Ashton.

European External Action Service

The European External Action Service (EEAS) is the diplomatic service and foreign and defence ministry of the European Union (EU). The EEAS is led by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR), who is also President of the Foreign Affairs Council and Vice-President of the European Commission, and carries out the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).The EEAS does not propose or implement policy in its own name, but prepares acts to be adopted by the High Representative, the European Commission or the Council. The EEAS is also in charge of EU diplomatic missions (delegations) and intelligence and crisis management structures.The EEAS, as well as the office of the HR, was initiated following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009. It was formally established on 1 December 2010. The EEAS was formed by merger of the external relations departments of the European Commission and of the Council, which were joined by staff seconded from national diplomatic services of the Member States. Although it supports both the Commission and the Council, the EEAS is independent from them and has its own staff, as well as a separate section in the EU budget.The EEAS and the European Defence Agency (EDA) together form the Secretariat of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the structural integration pursued by 25 of the 28 national armed forces of the EU since 2017.

Helmut Jahn

Helmut Jahn (born January 4, 1940) is a Chicago-based German-American architect, known for designs such as the Sony Center on the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany; the Messeturm in Frankfurt, Germany; the One Liberty Place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (formerly the tallest building in Philadelphia); and the Suvarnabhumi Airport, an international airport in Bangkok, Thailand. Recent projects include a residential tower in New York City, 50 West St in 2016 and the Thyssenkrup Test Tower in Rottweil, Germany in 2017.

Institutional seats of the European Union

The seven institutions of the European Union (EU) are seated in four different cities, viz. Brussels, Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Strasbourg, rather than being concentrated in a single capital city. The EU agencies and other bodies are located all across the union, but usually not fixed in the treaties. The Hague is the only exception, as the fixed seat of the European Police Office (Europol). Over the years, Brussels has become the principal seat, with each major institution and now the European Council being based wholly or in part there, leading to it being popularly known as "the capital of the EU".

The seats have been a matter of political dispute since the states first failed to reach an agreement at the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952. However, a final agreement between member states was reached in 1992, and later attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam.Despite this, the seat of the European Parliament remains controversial. The work of Parliament is divided between Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg, which is seen as a problem due to the large number of MEPs, staff, and documents which need to be moved. As the locations of the major seats have been enshrined in the treaties of the European Union, Parliament has no right to decide its own seat, unlike other national parliaments.Locating new bodies is also not without political disputes. The European Central Bank's (ECB) seat had to symbolise its independence from political control, and was located in a city which did not already host a national government or European institution. New agencies are also being based in eastern Europe since 2004 to balance the distribution of agencies across the EU.

Justus Lipsius building

The Justus Lipsius building, located in Brussels, Belgium, was the headquarters of the Council of the European Union from 1995, and the de facto home of the European Council from 2002 (de jure as of 2004), until their relocation to the adjacent newly constructed Europa building at the beginning of 2017. The building, which has a gross surface area of 227,278 m2, still provides for additional meeting rooms, office space and press facilities for both institution. It consists of 17 conference rooms with at least 10 interpretation booths each, 5 other meeting rooms and 2 rooms for official meals. It also provides 40,048 m2 of offices for both institutions' shared General Secretariat. An onsite press centre is also featured, which can be extended during summits with up to 600 seats in the atrium. It is linked, via means of two skyways and a service tunnel, to the Europa building.

Lex building

The Lex building is a high-rise of government offices in the European Quarter of Brussels (Belgium). It is an annex building of the Council of the European Union (its main building is the Europa building) and is located at Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 145.

Madou Plaza Tower

Madou Plaza Tower is a high-rise building in Brussels (Belgium). It was built in 1965 and renovated between 2002 and 2006 and taken over by the European Commission. It is located on the Small Ring, in the municipality of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, at 1 Place Madouplein. It hosts the Commission's Directorate-General for Competition.

Rue de la Loi

Rue de la Loi (French) or Wetstraat (Dutch) is a principal road running through central and eastern Brussels (Belgium) which is famous due to the presence of several notable governmental buildings (of Belgium and the European Union). The road, whose name translates into English as Law Street, runs from Rue Royale/Koningsstraat (

50.8468°N 4.3625°E / 50.8468; 4.3625), almost in the centre of Brussels, to Schuman roundabout (50.8419°N 4.3859°E / 50.8419; 4.3859), in its European quarter. It forms the first (westerly) part of the N3 road that runs to Aachen, Germany.

The term Rue de la Loi or Wetstraat is often used in the Belgian media as a metonym for government because not only does the Belgian Federal Parliament stand at the beginning of this street, but the office of the prime minister is at number 16. At the far end is the Berlaymont building on the Schuman roundabout and the Cinquantenaire beyond that. Shortly before the roundabout is the exit ramp from the tunnel under the roundabout and Cinquantenaire.

Symbols of Europe

A number of symbols of Europe have emerged since antiquity, notably the mythological figure of Europa herself.

Several symbols were introduced in the 1950s and 1960s by the Council of Europe (CoE).

The European Communities have created additional symbols for itself in 1985, which were inherited by the European Union (EU) in 1993. Such symbols of the European Union now represent political positions in support of EU policies and European integration as advocated by the EU rather than Europe as a continent or cultural sphere.

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