Trump's 2 percent and everything you need to know about the new NATO building

This afternoon, the new NATO headquarters in Brussels are being inaugurated as the leaders of the 28 member countries of this trans-Atlantic military alliance are meeting there. The construction is a huge one; it took various years to build it, also because of security demands. Here are some things you may want to know about the new NATO premises. For the occasion, Trump also held a short speech, confronting different allies with an inconvenient request.
  • the offices cover 254,000 square metres.
  • the building can accommodate 4,500 employees.
  • the total budget is 1.12 billion euros.
  • it still hasn't been completely finished, although the building process has been going on for 6.5 years. It will eventually have taken 1.5 years more to get it finished, due to the stringent security demands.
  • all material and personnel had to be screened during the building process, to avoid small microphones or wire-tapping devices being smuggled in.
  • a new tunnel was dug in front of the building to have the busy traffic go underground on the busy Leopold III Avenue for safety reasons.
  • the VRT was not allowed to film inside, but could exceptionally take some shots from the outside.
  • the shape consists of eight office wings (four on each side) which come together in an atrium in a central spine; they represent the fingers of two clasping hands, to symbolise the bonds between the members.
  • the façade is completely made of bullet-proof glass, to symbolise transparency and openness.
  • Special attention was paid to cyber security, to avoid possible hacking by Russia.
  • The building secures NATO's link with Belgium, something which was uncertain 8 years ago.

The keys

The various leaders of the 28 NATO member countries (and Montenegro, poised to become the 29th member) arrived in the early afternoon. Trump was the last one to show up shortly after 4PM.

After a ceremony that included the symbolic handing over of the keys by the Belgian builders to NATO, and the painting of the Belgian colours in the sky by fighter jets, the attendants also had a working dinner that started around 6PM. While it's not an official NATO summit, the occasion will be seized to discuss certain matters. 

Trump's 2 percent

In a speech, Trump reiterated his demand to NATO leaders to spend at least 2 percent of their domestic GDP on NATO. Belgium is just one of many countries to come short of this threshold, despite a promise they made in 2014.

The request is not new, but Trump's lashing out was remarkable. He said those countries "owe the U.S. large sums of money". To which extent Belgium is willing to meet this demand, is not sure. Belgium will be earmarking more cash for Defence in the coming years anyway (after years of austerity measures), but it is thought this will not be enough to reach the 2 percent target.