EU switches summit venue over fumes in new Europa building

October 18, 2017

CORRECTS YEAR - FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2016 file photo, the interior of the Europa building in Brussels. The European Union is making a belated change in venue of their two-day summit opening on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2017 because of toxic fumes in the recently opened Europa building. Instead of the egg-shaped building, the 28 EU leaders will now meet at the adjacent Justus Lipsius building, where they have a long tradition of hosting summits before the switch early this year. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union made a last-minute switch to the venue of a two-day summit opening Thursday because of noxious fumes in the recently-opened Europa building in Brussels.

The EU Council said in a statement Wednesday that the egg-shaped building encased in a glass box had to be evacuated because of technical issues affecting the ventilation in the kitchens, which produced fumes that led to several staff members falling ill.

The body initially said the summit would not be affected, but reversed that position late Wednesday. The 28 EU leaders will now meet for the summit Thursday and Friday at the adjacent Justus Lipsius building, which had long hosted summits before the switch to the Europa building early this year.

The EU summit will discuss a slew of issues including Brexit negotiations.

The Europa building was evacuated last Friday due to a similar incident.

The EU announced that the switch was “a precautionary measure” only. Still, it was a setback and embarrassment for a 320-million euro ($375 million) building opened amid great pomp only last year as the epitome of EU design and construction technology.

“Despite checks and precautions, a further technical incident occurred today in one of the Europa building kitchens,” the council said in a statement. Firefighters and medical staff were brought in to investigate the cause of the fumes, but the problem couldn’t be fixed in time to let the summit go ahead.

Compared to the Europa building, the Justus Lipsius is a drab, brown-marble and glass construction typical of 1990s architecture.

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