EU snubbed painter for Parliament’s art collection: ‘No symbolic value for integration!’

European Parliament is ‘not a punch bag’ says David Sassoli

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The European Parliament art collection comprises over 500 paintings, sculptures and other works of contemporary art from EU member states, as well as some works from non-European Union countries. The collection began in 1980 by the then-president Simone Veil to promote art and diversity. The initial plan was to bring together artworks from the 10 countries represented in the European Parliament, giving priority to young artists who had already achieved a certain level of recognition and prestige.

The European Parliament has since acquired the collection through purchases and donations

In a report titled ‘Quaestors’ Casebooks: Insight into oddities for any newly-minted MEPs’, though, Dr. Lee Rotherham, the former director of Special Projects at Vote Leave, claimed the collection is mostly contemporary and of debatable quality but that “does not stop its guardians’ jealous oversight”.

Mr Rotherham made the example of the Italian artist Gian Paolo Dulbecco, who offered to donate his work “Il colore della notte” representing “the expectations of a new day”.

He added: “However, it embarrassingly got turned down on the recommendation of the Artistic Committee to the Quaestors on the grounds that the rules require it to have ‘symbolic value for the European identity and integration.'”

“Artist Elke Hellas Markopoulos came as a cropper instead because the work mainly related to ‘a specific region in Germany representing a typical flower from that region’.”

Art is not the only thing the European Union collects.

A 2012 report by CNBC reveals the shocking amount of wine bottles stored in the cellars of the European Commission and the European Council and how much they are worth.

Martin Ehrenhauser, a former Austrian member of the European Parliament, tabled a question regarding how many bottles were stored.

The answer, which reportedly took four months to deliver, revealed a total of 42,789 bottles of red, white and sparkling wines, plus nearly 2,000 more spirits.

Mr Ehrenhauser, an independent member of the European Parliament who described himself as a “friend of Commons Europe” but a foe of its current spendthrift, said: “I was shocked.

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“I had not expected that they would have so many bottles.

“They should be working, not drinking.”

The overall Brussels booze bill was budgeted at only around £42,000 for 2012, and was a small portion of that year’s total spending of about £130billion, most of which went towards subsidies for farmers and development grants for poorer regions.

The wines purchased were not vintage either, as according to the report, the most expensive bottle in the EU Commission’s cellar cost a little over £46.

In 2017, Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh claimed Britain should have secured a fair share of the EU’s thousands of bottles of wine and fine art collection during the Brexit negotiations.

He urged ministers to “promise to take back control of our fair share of this art and wine”.

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British negotiators were expected to demand around 5,000 bottles of wine, 250 bottles of spirits, and £2million worth of artwork.

Speaking in the Commons, the veteran MP said the alcohol and art should have not been left for Jean-Claude Jucker, the former European Commission President, to “enjoy”.

He told MPs: “The EU is estimated to have a wine cellar of over 42,000 bottles and artwork worth more than £13million, some might say metaphorically looted from the capitals of Europe.

“After we leave the party, will the minister promise to take back control of our fair share of this art and wine and not leave it for Mr Juncker to enjoy?”

Robin Walker, the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and now Minister of State for Northern Ireland, said it was an “interesting question”.

He replied: “The Honourable Gentleman raises a very interesting question.

“The legal basis of those legal assets and liabilities has been analysed in detail and accounted for in the overall settlement.

“The scope of the settlement is laid out in the joint report.”

It is not clear whether Britain demanded its share of “art and wine” back from the EU – but it does not appear to have received anything from Brussels.

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