The European Union is eyeing up a €20 million residence for one of its top diplomats in New York because its current three-bedroom townhouse is too small to host parties.
The lavishly-decorated, 19th-century property will be used by the bloc’s ambassador to the United Nations to host more than 100 social gatherings every year, including dinners, lunches and receptions.
In a leaked document, seen by The Telegraph, officials complained that its UN delegation has been forced to hold events in its “ill-suited” office, “given the limitations of the current residence”.
The memo, circulated to MEPs, also said the UN will keep the smaller property as an investment.
It argued that EU ambassadors, past and present, have struggled to attract “influential guests” because of a lack of a proper residence.
To attract more star-studded guests, the European External Action Service, the EU’s foreign policy wing, has asked MEPs to sign off on the purchase of the 2,000 sq ft property in New York’s glitzy Upper East Side.
The townhouse, which has five bedrooms and eight bathrooms, is described by real-estate agents as “impeccably rebuilt with unparalleled material and craftsmanship”.
Its dining room is adorned with Ralph Lauren “leather-wrapped wallpaper”, the sizeable outdoor space, a rarity in Manhattan, features a high-end barbecue grill and fire pit, and, ironically, a purple-and-brown Union Jack rug in one of the drawing rooms.
“No expense was spared in the meticulous design and construction of this beautiful home,” the online agent selling the townhouse added.
The garden is seen by officials as a vital area as they will be able to host around 60 warm-weather events every year.
“A proper residence is, in this respect, a key working tool to attract influential interlocutors. This is the essence of diplomatic work,” officials noted.
“A representative and functional residence enables quality and sustained outreach to the many players in the broad diplomatic platform that the UN in New York represents.”
In a separate document, officials said purchasing the townhouse would give the bloc’s UN ambassador a property equivalent to that housing its top diplomats in other foreign countries.
“The residence of the head of delegation should be comparable to those of member-state ambassadors,” the memo said.
It was claimed that currently the EU’s UN ambassador can only entertain a “maximum of around 10 guests” with no room for family during official events.
Under the EU’s plans, the new property will cost European taxpayers €20 million over the next 20 years, including for renovations to the already revamped townhouse.
Brussels will also hold onto the existing residence, which could be sold for €4.5 million, as an investment for the future.
“It would only make sense to cash in the capital gain if the EU were to leave the NY real-estate market,” the memo said.
The lavish purchase has drawn criticism as the bloc faces a crippling cost of living crisis.
One source, who helped unearth the information, said: “It seems like the External Action Service is going to Get Rich or Die Buying,” a play on the title of New York rapper 50 Cent’s debut album.
Joachim Kuhs, a German MEP on the EU Parliament’s budget committee, said: “Splurging taxpayers’ cash on unnecessary extravagance is completely unacceptable at any time, but doing this during an economic crisis where we see ordinary citizens struggling to make ends meet is really rubbing salt into the wound.
“When Eurocrats pop champagne to celebrate this … purchase, I hope they understand just how bitter the taste will be for the rest of us.
“Even by EU standards, surely they will struggle to justify spending €20 million on a glorified party residence.”
MEPs are expected to hold a vote on the purchase of the property next month.
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