French 2008 EU Presidency cost almost €1 million a day - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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French 2008 EU Presidency cost almost €1 million a day

Tuesday, 27 October 2009
It is very noticeable that everyday in the Belgian free press there is an article or a reference to when the country takes over the rolling presidency of the European Council and its consequent projected level of spending, which the locals worry will cost too much.

The Kingdom of Belgium is set to resume the presidency on 1 July 2010 for six months after Spain who will take over from the current Sweden on 1 January.

The Eiffel Tower was illumiated with the EU flag throughout the French Presidency (Photo: Eftours)So the news emerging today from France about its spending for its six months in charge, will do little to ease these fears: The French Court of Accounts put the total cost of the July-December 2008 presidency at a whopping €171 million (approx £155m).

On average the rotating presidency of the EU costs each country approximately €70-80 million, but this works out at nearly €1 million a day!

Attempts were made in the report to try and justify the massive expense at the hands of the French taxpayer, remarking that "the scale of this summit, the irregular nature of its procedures and its massive impact on public finances together make this summit a kind of record."

The report noted that France organised 489 EU events during its presidency including nine summits, 25 ministerial meetings and 328 seminars and symposiums.

This huge sum eclipses the amounts previously spent by previous French presidencies of the EU - in 2000 (€56.9 million) and 1995 (€14.1 million), and will certainly add, rather than dispel, Belgian anxiety.

Yet if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, then under the proposed system there would not be a rotating presidency of the same scale so Belgians will not have to spend quite so much...

UPDATE (28/10, 15.00):
And if that was not already enough, the Daily Telegraph has discovered that included in this spending was a including £250,000 custom-built luxury shower that, get this, President Nicolas Sarkozy never even used...

While incorporating power and massage jet buttons as well as a surround-sound radio feature, the main bulk of the money was spent trying to get it installed in what is a listed building...

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