The way they live – Part 1: Brussels politician receives hundreds of thousands of euros in public money to refurbish luxury riverside villa

The way they live – Part 1: Brussels politician receives hundreds of thousands of euros in public money to refurbish luxury riverside villa

Nothing is too dear for Brusselites who are calling for further sanctions, saying that EU citizens should make this sacrifice in order to bring Putin to his knees. The very same politicians choose a peculiar way of saving money when it comes to themselves. Guy Verhofstadt, for instance, had his luxury villa renovated from public monies to spare the family budget.


Millions of Europeans are having to tighten their belts while more and more people are calling into question the sanctions against Russia including the import ban on energy carriers. Meanwhile, some European politicians on lavish salaries are pressing for even tougher measures from the warmth of their homes, citing Putin’s aggression or climate change, essentially making European people pay the price.

Guy Verhofstadt, Belgium’s ex-prime minister and MEP of the liberal Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, lives in a beautifully refurbished 17th-century riverside heritage building in central Ghent, Belgium. He is persistently campaigning for even harsher sanctions. Just a few days ago, he took to Twitter to announce in a post that he is demanding further sanctions against Russia in the field of energy carriers. In Brussels, they believe that this sacrifice must be made, even if all EU citizens are forced to economise.


A Belgian portal reported how Verhofstadt „saved money” when he had his own house renovated. As it turned out, the liberal politician cut his own expenses in half by receiving hundreds of thousands of euros in public monies to renovate his house.

The politician and his family bought the listed building – in which he still lives – in 2011 for one and a half million euros, together with two other families, press reports suggest. According to an article by Knack, in 2012,

the cost of the renovation of the Verhofstadt residence was estimated at around 820,000 euros, but almost half of this was paid for by Belgian taxpayers.

For the renovation, the former prime minister has received substantial funding from the Flemish government, the province of East Flanders and the city of Ghent, totalling 327,784 euros, the Knack news portal writes.

The Ghent City Council has deflected criticism by saying that the money was given to the listed building, not to the owner, and that the renovation will contribute to the development of the city’s image. It’s true that the building was uninhabitable before the renovation and conversion, but thanks to the generous subsidy, the Verhofstadts were able to get away with renewing their family home at almost half the personal cost.

The hundreds of thousands of euros in subsidies were met with outrage and backlash at a time when the government was making changes to energy-saving measures. This means that people no longer received the same tax relief for certain housing improvements and upgrading investments as before, making construction or renovation significantly more expensive.



guy verhofstadt, house, public money