Government draws up tight budget for EU presidency as date draws near

Mon, Dec 17, 2012, 00:00

The Government is to spend €24 million on catering, accommodation, transport, interpretation and venue costs for the EU presidency, due to start in January. Another €20 million will be spent on extra staff for Government departments.

Refurbishing Dublin Castle where most meetings will take place, extra office space for Ireland’s embassy to the EU, stationery and an accreditation system for the 15,000 delegates expected will amount to €12 million.

A cultural programme of 300 events planned by the Arts Council to be held in Ireland and abroad will cost €3 million.

Security costs

The presidency will cost up to €60 million overall – down from the last presidency in 2004 which cost €110 million – with an extra €10 million to go towards security costs to cover both the presidency and the recent meeting in Dublin of the foreign ministers of the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe.

“An overarching focus . . . is to perform this important function in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said in reply to a parliamentary question.

The Government has received 20 proposals to sponsor events during the presidency. Extra staff have been put in place in Government departments, many on short-term contracts, and 90 officials have been sent to the embassy in Brussels.

The presidency will involve Irish ministers chairing meetings of the other member states on issues such as finance, environment, justice and trade. Eleven such meetings will take place in Ireland, with almost 180 presidency events taking place.