More than 800 million euros ($920 million) has already been pledged for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame Cathedral, according to French Culture Minister Franck Riester. The normal annual budget for restoring national monuments is about 300 million euros, he said.
The immediate priority is to secure Notre Dame’s vault, which has a gaping hole in the middle after its spire collapsed during Monday night’s fire, Riester said in an interview on France2 television. Other quickly needed steps are removing melted statues that are weighing on fragile parts of the outer structure.
President Emmanuel Macron Tuesday night said the cathedral will be rebuilt in five years.
“It’s a huge challenge, a historical responsibility,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said after a cabinet meeting that was only about Notre Dame. Riester said it was too early to talk about how the cathedral will be restored and with what materials and techniques, and Philippe said there are no estimates yet on the costs.
The French government next week will pass a law that will provide a framework for the rebuilding of the cathedral, making it easier to modify tax breaks and construction procedures. Further tax breaks will be introduced for small donations, while existing deductions will apply for donations of more than 1 000 euros.
Donations can be made via www.rebatirnotredamedeparis.fr, which has links to four approved organizations, Riester said. Wealthy individuals and companies already have pledged hundreds of millions of euros for the project.
A former head of the French military, Jean-Louis Georgelin, will head up a special unit the culture ministry is creating to oversee the reconstruction. The government also will launch an international competition to design a new spire to replace the 19th-century one that burned down Monday night.