The Government decided in December 2011 to allocate a total budget in the order of €60m over 2012 and 2013 to resource the Presidency, with an additional allocation to be made in respect of security costs. €23 million was allocated in 2012 across a range of Departments and Offices. A further allocation of €36m has been included in the Estimates for Public Services, published on 5 December last. A further €10m has also been included to address security costs related to both the Presidency and the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting held in Dublin last week.
This budget is broadly in line with budgets for recent Presidencies and is less than the budget for the Irish Presidency in 2004 where total expenditure, when all costs were taken into account, was approximately €110m. Expenditure in 2012 focused primarily on planning costs which included:
- the refurbishment of Dublin Castle conference facilities;
- the fitting out of extra office accommodation within the Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels;
- Increased staffing in Dublin and Brussels to support the Presidency;
- Costs for re-location of additional staff to the Permanent Representation;
- The development of a Presidency website;
- The development of an accreditation system to handle the approx 15,000 delegates expected to visit Ireland. This system was also used for the OSCE Ministerial meeting;
- The provision of Presidency materials such as stationery and branding;
- The preparation of a Cultural programme;
- Increased travel to Brussels and Strasbourg in the build-up to the Presidency.
The majority of expenditure in 2013 will be for the following:
- the management of the Presidency agenda in home Departments;
- the operation of a significantly-enlarged Permanent Representation in Brussels (+90 people);
- a programme of Presidency events taking place in Ireland;
- a cultural programme that uses the Presidency to promote Ireland and Irish culture to an international audience and which also showcases the role of the EU in Ireland.
To date approximately 20 proposals of sponsorship have been received in respect of the Presidency. These cover a wide spectrum of companies from smaller domestic companies to larger multinationals and include offers of support in relation to transport, telecommunications, IT-related projects and to cover certain event costs. In addition, State agencies and other bodies have been of assistance in providing services and support. The assessment of sponsorship offers is underway and a full list of sponsors will be released when this is finalised.
An overarching focus of the Government in planning for Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union is to perform this important function in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The use of Dublin Castle and a small number of other state-owned venues mainly in Dublin to host most Presidency meetings will reduce venue hire, transport and set-up costs, not to mention significantly reducing the “carbon footprint” of the Presidency. An effectively managed Presidency will deliver long-term reputational benefits for Ireland. Short-term benefits include significant benefits for the local economy from an influx of up to 15,000 delegates, press and representatives of NGOs who will use local services including hotels, restaurants, taxis etc. over the six month Presidency period.