The European Court of Justice in Kirchberg. Tower C (on left) was inaugurated in September 2019 and will be open to the public for the very first time on Saturday 19 October. Tower A and B are 100m high; Tower C is 115m high. Library picture: Patricia Pitsch/Maison Moderne
The general public will be able to visit the new tower at the European Court of Justice for the first time this weekend.
The EU’s top court, in Kirchberg, hosts an open house on Saturday between 2pm and 6pm.
Visitors can take a guided tour--available in English, French, German and Luxembourgish--or follow a roped-off path through the complex on their own.
The ECJ’s chief judge, Koen Lenaerts of Belgium, and Luxembourg’s judge, François Biltgen, will be among the court officials leading tours. Altogether about 230 ECJ staff from all of its departments will be on hand to provide tours and answer visitor questions.
The event will be an opportunity to talk about the court’s work and the importance of European law, in addition to the complex’s unique architecture, Biltgen said during a press briefing on Thursday.
The open house will feature an exhibition on the construction and evolution of the judicial complex and the chance to visit court rooms, interpretation booths and the judges’ deliberation chamber. Tours end at the observation deck on the 27th floor of the new Tower C, which court officials believe is the only place in the world where people can see four countries at the same time.
The €168m Tower C was officially inaugurated last month, stands 115m high and has 50,000 square metres of floorspace. Biltgen said Tower C was delivered on time and on budget.
New public entrance and garden planned
Biltgen previewed some planned building projects at the ECJ. These include construction of a new visitors pavilion at the foot of Tower C to replace the current public entrance, which is difficult for some to find. Also planned is a “multilingualism garden”, which will occupy part of the space of the recently razed Jean Monnet building.
Biltgen, a former Luxembourg justice minister, said both developments will reorient the judicial complex towards the changing urban layout on the Kirchberg.
In addition, the court will build a new perimeter security fence that Biltgen said will “not be the Berlin Wall or Fort Knox” as the court remains open and accessible to the public.
The projects are still in the “planning phase” and no start and completion dates have yet been fixed, Biltgen stated.
Like all other ECJ construction projects, the bidding process and project management will be completely handled by Luxembourg’s public buildings department. As the host country, Luxembourg will also foot the bill. (The court pays the Luxembourg state rent on a “lease-to-own” scheme and will own most of complex outright in 2026 and then Tower C in 2036.)
The ECJ expects guided tours to last about an hour and can handle 1,000 visitors or so per hour.
No reservation is required, a court spokesman said. Visitors will have to pass through a security checkpoint.