Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
Question 135: To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the preparations he has undertaken for the Irish Presidency of the EU Council in January 2013; the amount of money spent on EU Council Presidency related activities to date in 2012; the estimated expenditure up to December 2012; the budget for the six month Presidency specifically; the additional staff he has undertaken; the number of re-assigned staff he has undertaken; the estimated future staff requirements for the Presidency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8845/12]
Preparations for the Irish Presidency have been ongoing in my Department for some time now. The Department has been inputting into two Inter-Departmental Planning Groups dealing with planning and logistics, the Inter-Departmental Committee for Coordinating the Presidency chaired by my colleague Ms Lucinda Creighton T.D. Minister of State for European Affairs and the Inter-Departmental Administrative Planning group chaired by a senior Official of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Last July a Presidency Planning Committee was established in my Department. The Committee meets on a regular basis and has discussed a wide range of related topics such as the implications of the Presidency on financial and human resources, ICT requirements, likely Presidency issues both legislative and non-legislative, the servicing of Council working groups in Brussels and training for chairpersons and delegates of these working groups. A considerable amount of Presidency engagement with Geneva based organisations will take place, including the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Additional staff resources will be required to service the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU in Brussels and Geneva, Presidency conferences and high level group meetings in Ireland.
This Department will be primarily responsible for three of the current Council of Ministers formations, namely:
· Competitiveness Council (Research, Industry and Internal Market issues).
· Employment, Social Policy Health and Consumer Affairs Council.
· Trade Council.
These Councils are supported by or linked to a range of Council chaired and Commission chaired Working Groups, advisory Groups and implementing Committees.
During the Irish Presidency I, along with my Ministers of State, Mr John Perry T.D., Minister for Small Business, and Mr Seán Sherlock T.D., Minister for Research and Innovation, will chair and act as head of delegation for the formal Council meetings. We will also attend plenary sessions of the European Parliament and work closely with various Commissioners. In preparation for this we continue to avail of every opportunity to engage with all the EU institutions and key players on policies of mutual concern. Bilateral meetings have been held at both official and Ministerial level with Commissioners and high ranking officials, our trio partners Lithuania and Greece, EU partners and like-minded groups. This level of engagement will further intensify during 2012.
It is my Department's intention to enhance its current staff deployment in the Perm Reps in Brussels and Geneva with 8 officials. Where possible, with effect from mid-2012, we also intend to avail of internships in both locations. In addition to these staff costs, there will be additional expenditure on staffing, training and travel and subsistence in 2012 in preparation for the Presidency. To-date no additional funding has been spent on Irish Presidency-related work. It is estimated that Presidency-related expenditure in 2012 could amount to €2 million in pay and non-pay costs. A similar figure is estimated for 2013.