Brussels is to get a new European School, after the federal government approved financing of €50-€70 million for the project. The new school with take over the former site of Nato on the border of Evere and Haren, after the treaty organisation moved to brand-new headquarters on a former military site across the road. The site will require extensive redevelopment.
Brussels already has four European schools, in Woluwe, Uccle (pictured), Ixelles and Laeken. There is also a school in Mol, where the European nuclear agency is situated, and in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain, each serving EU staff working at local institutions such as the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg or the research centre at Ispra in Italy.
The decision to create a fifth school was taken in 2015, but at that stage the Nato site was not available, and new construction would have been prohibitive. The new school will take in 2,500 students made up mainly of the children of EU functionaries – although limited places are available for the children of employees of other institutions such as Nato itself, as well as others. The latter have to pay a fee (which EU employees do not) which although sizeable, is considered competitive with other private schools in and around the city.
That, together with the expansion of the EU, has led to pressure on the capacity of the existing four schools in Brussels.
The school is expected to open for the beginning of the academic year in 2019, according to the office of federal home affairs minister Jan Jambon. The Belgian government is responsible for financing the schools under the terms of the treaties which saw the European institutions install themselves in Brussels when it was only a community of six nations. It now numbers 28, soon to be reduced by Brexit to 27.