The European Commission’s Visitor Centre in Brussels has 30,000 fewer visitors a year than the Keswick Pencil Museum in spite of being free and having recently benefitted from a €1 million (£853,000) upgrade.

In its response to a written question by Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis the Commission revealed that just over 50,000 people had visited its centre in 2012.

Despite the low attendance, including a 5% drop on the previous year, the European Commission lavished €1m of taxpayers’ funding to relocate the centre to a new location. The EU does not charge an entrance fee to the centre, which employs 20 staff.

The number of visitors is 30,000 lower than one of Britain’s more unusual museums, the Keswick Pencil Museum. Over 80,000 people a year[i] pay the £4.25 admission fee to see the world’s longest pencil in the Lakeland museum.

London MEP Marina Yannakoudakis said: “The EU thinks that it can win over citizens with extravagant visitors’ centres such as those hosted by the European Commission and the European Parliament.

“The parliament lavished a shameful €21 million (£18m) on its temple of EU propaganda and now we learn that a further million euros has been spent on another centre half a mile away.

“The EU needs to rein in the outlandish budget for publicising itself. If it buckled down and did a better job, including by cutting back waste, it might find it needed less money to spend on hype.”

Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding answering Mrs. Yannakoudakis’ question on behalf of the Commission said: “Visitors’ Centre an integral part and key instrument of its communication strategy.

“It provides an opportunity for citizens, including high-profile groups and key multipliers, to visit the Commission at its headquarters.

“The Centre aims to give visitors an insight into how the Commission works and also explain its policies and programmes.”


[i] http://www.pencilmuseum.co.uk/history/

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