EU council presidency coordinator: Estonia ready to get going earlier than planned
Coordinator of Estonia’s upcoming EU council presidency, Piret Lilleväli said in an interview with ETV’s “Aktuaalne Kaamera” on Thursday that their careful preparations made it easier to adapt to the schedule change and start earlier than planned.
Lilleväli said that Estonia had started planning very early, much like most of the union’s member states had done it before their first council presidency. This made it easier to change the schedule now and get ready for an earlier start.
It became clear earlier this week that the United Kingdom would give up its EU council presidency in the second half of 2017. As Estonia’s would have immediately followed and it was decided to move the schedule forward by six months, Lilleväli’s team now need to be ready sooner.
Originally, the funding of the project was allocated for a time period of three years. As this period was now six months shorter, a solution would need to be found with the Ministry of Finance. “And like the Minister of Finance has said, apparently this is possible,” Lilleväli said.
“The people involved matter, of course, but the majority has already been hired and given their tasks and are getting ready for them. So we can deal with it,” she added.
That Estonia had been ready to agree to the change in schedule without further ado Lilleväli called “very statesmanlike” and pointed out that there was no point in making an issue out of the council presidency in times that were difficult enough for the European Union.
Logistics were an issue, but none of the problems in the area seemed insurmountable at this point, Lilleväli added. The location for most of the presidency’s biggest events, Tallinn’s “Kultuurikatel”, was more or less ready, and the agreements for the use of the rooms in place.
Sester: Adapting the budget is possible
According to Minister of Finance Sven Sester (IRL), the EU council presidency will cost Estonia €75m. With the presidency moved forward by six months, changes needed to be made.
The amount was intended to be distributed over three years, with five million to be allocated from this year’s budget, €30m next year, and another €40m in 2018.
Sester said that this schedule change would have to be taken into account putting together the next budget in autumn this year, and that he didn’t see any problems with it.