The agreement paves the way for the start of the construction of the new Headquarters, which will be located across the street from the existing buildings.
Under the agreement, Belgium has taken on responsibility for managing and carrying forward the construction of the new Headquarters.
The memorandum of understanding was signed by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht and Defence Minister André Flahaut, at a special ceremony at the current NATO Headquarters.
“I believe that, by handing responsibility for this project over to the Belgian authorities, NATO is not only placing a big vote of confidence in the Belgian Government, but is putting the project on a new and faster track,” said NATO Secretary General De Hoop Scheffer during the signing.
A hub for transatlantic cooperation
The NATO Headquarters, in Brussels, Belgium, is the political headquarters of the Alliance and the permanent home of the North Atlantic Council, NATO's senior political decision-making body.
With the recent enlargements of the Alliance, and the ongoing deterioration of the existing HQ, the current facilities are no longer adequate. Thus, in 1999, NATO Heads of State and Government agreed to construct a new headquarters to meet the requirements of the Alliance in the 21st century.
In November 2002, at a signing ceremony held during the Prague Summit, the Belgian Government transferred to NATO concessionary rights for the construction of the new buildings, opposite the present site.
The design for the new Headquarters, by the firm SOM+ Assar - Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Inc., was selected through an international architectural design competition and announced on 23 January 2003.
The decision to hand the management of the project over to Belgium, paves the way for contracts for the design and construction of the new HQ to be let.
The current Headquarters is located at Boulevard Leopold III, 1110 Brussels, on the northeast perimeter of the city. There are approximately 4,000 people working at NATO Headquarters on a full-time basis.