Report: France to spend record 190 million euros on EU presidency
The French government has budgeted 190 million euros (300 million dollars) for its six-month EU presidency, a record amount, the internet daily MediaPart reported.
According to the report, the sum is 16 times what the British Foreign Office foresaw for London's six months at the helm of the EU in 2005, reported dpa.
MediaPart said that the French government has so far provided no details about what the money would be spent on, or if competitive bids were asked for regarding contracts granted by the office of President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet said that the large sum was necessitated by expenditures linked to the union's expansion to 27 members.
The budget "corresponds to that of a presidency for an enlarged Europe," Jouyet said, adding that this made comparisons to the costs of previous EU presidencies meaningless.
However, one lawmaker from the opposition Socialist Party said that the large budget made little sense because France's EU presidency, which starts Tuesday, takes place in the second half of the year and so is shorter because of the summer holidays.
Among the many events scheduled for the French EU presidency, 22 involve the participation of one or more senior government members, 92 are international conferences where one government representative is present and 20 are informal ministerial conferences.
These events in themselves, which were proposed by France, not the EU, will cost 82 million euros.