British Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday accused fellow European Union leaders of squandering £280m (€315m) on a new Brussels building for themselves at a time when the public is being hit by spending cuts.
At a dinner of EU leaders, Mr Cameron was furious when Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, circulated a glossy, 14-page brochure trumpeting the 27 leaders' new headquarters.
The Europa building, next door to the Justus Lipsius Building where the leaders currently hold their meetings, will include three conference halls, five meeting rooms and offices for Mr Van Rompuy; as well as for the country which holds the EU's rotating chairmanship; delegations from EU member states and the press, and refreshment areas.
Mr Cameron's attack caused surprise in Brussels since the project was approved in 2004 and would now be more expensive to halt than complete. Some EU officials accused him of pandering to Eurosceptics when the EU should pull together because of the economic crisis in Greece.
But Mr Cameron insisted: "Governments, like households, can't endlessly borrow. I do think it's important as we do that, where it's at the national level or the European level, that the politicians aren't sitting in some gilded cage asking everyone else to take responsibility."
The new HQ is due to open in 2014.