BRUSSELS - NATO is building a new, state-of-the-art headquarters in Brussels, but critics say the $1 billion project seems extravagant at a time when austerity is forcing many alliance members to slash military spending.
The vast steel-and-glass structure is taking shape in the outskirts of Brussels, across the road from the old headquarters, built as a temporary home for the alliance in 1967 and which NATO officials say has outlived its useful life.
Construction is 80 percent complete on the new building, made up of eight curving wings that connect to a huge central space with an imposing 32 meter (yard)-high entrance.
More than 4,000 NATO staff and diplomats from the 28 allies and 22 partner countries are to move in 2016.
NATO members have shared the cost of the new headquarters at a time when many are being forced to cut key military capabilities due to a budget squeeze.
"When defense budgets are being cut and in general when governments are under so much pressure from taxpayers to save money, it looks terribly extravagant," said Daniel Keohane, head of strategic affairs at the FRIDE think tank in Brussels.