Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Presidency to cost 60 million euro

Lucinda Creighton says Ireland's presidency of the European Council will cost significantly less than before

Ireland's presidency of the European Council is likely to cost the state around 60 million euro.

European affairs minister Lucinda Creighton insisted the Government was doing its best to cut costs where possible ahead of the job in the first half of 2013.

"It will cost significantly less than the previous presidency," said Ms Creighton. "We estimate a figure of around 60 million euro. The comparable figure for 2004 was about 90 million euro so we're reducing costs by around a third."

Ms Creighton said the economy is much different than it was eight years ago when Ireland last held the presidency of the council of the 27-state European Union. But her estimate of 60 million euro is likely to rise when additional costs are piled on for security measures.

She said discussions are already under way with An Garda Siochana and the Department of Justice. The minister said she was not a fan of the cavalcades and extravagant private venues hired during the last term, insisting only state-owned buildings would be used for meetings to save money.

"All ministerial meetings will take place in Dublin - most of the meetings in Dublin," said Ms Creighton.

"Firstly we want to use state venues, principally Dublin Castle. But also the transport cost of moving interpreters around the country is an enormously costly action that we can't justify."

Around 12 ministerial meetings are expected to be hosted in Dublin, with numerous other informal gatherings. Ms Creighton estimated several thousand European delegates will end up spending the equivalent of around 14,000 hotel nights in the city.

She echoed claims by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who said Ireland will make every euro count when it takes up the presidency. But she insisted it was equally important not to underspend because the nation will be under a global spotlight and that funding the job would be a "balancing act".

Ireland has held the presidency of the European Council six times before - most recently during the country's boom in 2004. Next year will also coincide with the 40th anniversary of Ireland joining the EU.