THE Government is likely to secure just "tens of thousands" of euro in sponsorship from Irish and multinational firms that applied to provide direct and indirect financial assistance to Ireland's upcoming EU presidency, the Irish Independent has learned.
About 20 companies offered the free use of a range of services from cars, IT infrastructure and telecoms, as the Government seeks to defray the estimated €60m cost of its six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union. Ireland's 2004 presidency cost the state about €110m.
But the sponsorship offered will barely make a dent in the overall bill for next year.
The Government is planning to finalise sponsorship contracts in coming weeks, a spokeswoman confirmed. Some potential sponsors have also offered to cover specific event costs during Ireland's presidency.
But she said the value of the sponsorship would run to "tens of thousands" of euro rather than millions. Until contracts were signed, she couldn't say whether the final figure would be more or less than €100,000.
The Government has restricted the number of high-level ministerial meetings that will take place at locations such as Dublin Castle and somesmaller state-owned venues in an effort to keep overall costs down.
"Where possible we are arranging to make single bulk purchases to maximise value for money and have sought sponsorship for key elements of the programme," said the spokeswoman.
As part of the agreements, companies will have their logos displayed on the presidency website eu2013.ie, which will be launched next month.
"While the benefits and opportunities available to each sponsor will vary depending on the nature of the sponsorship agreement entered into, in general sponsors will have their logos displayed on the Presidency website and will be permitted to use the logo of the Irish presidency logo in their marketing material for a period of one year," the spokeswoman confirmed.
"Ireland's presidency of the Council of the European Union represents an enormous opportunity for our country to take a leadership role in Europe and the Government is determined to conduct an efficient and cost-effective Presidency," she said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs sent out a request for sponsorship proposals earlier this year. It sought sponsors for both the presidency and next month's meeting of the ministerial council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which takes place at the RDS in Dublin. That meeting will bring 1,000 delegates and more than 50 foreign ministers together.
"Through the presidency, the Government wishes to demonstrate that Ireland is a strong supporter of the European project and an active member state that contributes to advancing issues that benefit all citizens of the EU," the department said in the tender document.
"The department's preference is for large-scale and substantial offers, ideally to support its efforts for the full duration of the Presidency," it said.
The department said it would also consider proposals from SMEs for individual events and was "particularly interested" in proposals that "showcase Ireland's creativity, innovation and commitment to quality".