Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Department of An Taoiseach
Question 97: To ask the Taoiseach the preparations he has undertaken for the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in January 2013; the amount of money spent on EU 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. [9295/12]
My Department is playing a central coordinating role in preparations for Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2013. The Department is leading the coordination of policy planning for the Presidency, working closely with Ireland's Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels, as well as with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Senior officials from my Department also chair a number of smaller working groups tasked with more specific areas of planning including a semi-state agency group that is reviewing the promotional opportunities presented by the Presidency and a communications group. Officials from my Department are also working closely with the EU institutions in the run-up to the Presidency.
I have also met with several of my European colleagues in recent months and discussed issues including the Presidency. One of my recent meetings was with the Prime Minister of Denmark which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The Minister of State for European Affairs visited the European Parliament last November and will travel to Strasbourg again in March to meet with key contacts ahead of the Presidency. The Minister of State has also met with many of her counterparts in other EU Member States in recent months. Meetings have also been held with civil society representatives and other stakeholders.
The 2012 estimate for my Department for the EU Presidency is €2.2 million, €1 million in respect of pay and €1.2 million in respect of non-pay. A total of €3,639.88 has been spent to date (i.e. 17 February 2012) by my Department in respect of the EU Presidency.
In keeping with the precedents set for previous EU Presidencies there is a need for additional staff to assist with the central planning and preparation functions for the forthcoming Presidency. These functions are now shared between my Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in light of the transfer of functions between the Departments that took place last year.
I estimate that approximately 21 additional staff will be required by my Department for the duration of the Presidency. In view of the temporary nature of the work involved the emphasis being taken in relation to the filling of these posts is to seek redeployment from elsewhere in the public service as far as possible or to fill them by way of temporary recruitment.
In this regard two staff have already been redeployed to my Department from other parts of the civil service. My Department is also currently in the process of establishing a panel of temporary Executive Officers with relevant EU related qualifications to assist with necessary functions for the Presidency. It is expected that 10 people will be drawn from the panel as soon as it is established. It will be drawn from thereafter as required.