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Friday 17 November 2017

Coalition seeking sponsors to cut cost of EU presidency

Fionnan Sheahan and Lyndsey Telford

THE Government is hawking Ireland's EU presidency to sponsors to reduce the cost of holding it to the taxpayer.

The Coalition plans to spend around €60m on the six-month term as chair of the EU in the first half of next year.

European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton said the cost is being reduced by one-third from the €90m spent in 2004, the last time Ireland held the presidency.

To further reduce the bill, the Government is also seeking corporate sponsorship from companies, including the provision of goods and services.

It hopes to get companies and state agencies to pay for dinners and gifts for delegates to meetings.

The Government will be conscious of any conflicts of interest arising, Ms Creighton said.

She added that there will be an economic return for Ireland, and particularly Dublin, from the presidency.

Over the six months to June, 14,000 hotel bed nights will be occupied by politicians and officials attending meetings.

Although there won't be any EU leaders' summit here, there will be 170 official meetings, including 11 ministerial summits.

To curb costs, most meetings will be held in the capital, particularly in Dublin Castle.

The €60m estimate is likely to rise because of additional costs for security measures.

Ms Creighton 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.

She echoed claims made 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 State would be under a global spotlight and that funding would be a "balancing act".

Irish Independent

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