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Tuesday, December 9, 1997 Published at 19:44 GMT

World: Europe

Euro MPs in hot water over office costs
image: [ European officials say showering in parliament is not a luxury ]
European officials say showering in parliament is not a luxury

A dispute over office showers has become the latest episode in the long list of tales of waste and mismanagement by the European Union.

A Belgian member of the European Parliament has discovered that fitting showers in the Brussels offices of new members from Sweden, Finland and Austria cost more than $12,000 a piece.

Jaak van de Meulebroucke, who submitted a parliamentary question about showers more than a year ago, does not see why MEPs should have them in their offices at all.

He says he has had a shower in his Strasbourg office for years, but never used it.

However, parliamentary officials insist MEPs work long hours, and often have to travel.

It was felt that having showers was a basic comfort which members ought to enjoy.

The dispute comes as the finishing touches are put to the new parliament building in Brussels.

Moving the parliament there was meant to put an end to stories of waste and inefficiency resulting from conducting business in two different sites - Brussels and Strasbourg.

The debate about MEPs' bathing rights has also been raised at a sensitive time in the parliament's relations with the media.

As a result of some recent covert filming in the Brussels parliament building, steps have been taken to ban camera crews from certain areas.

Some MEPs are unhappy over the move as they feel they ought to be allowed to do interviews in their offices - even if it risks exposing their showers to public view.

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