While the total budget for the 2014-2018 period was €74.9 million, with an extra €4 million allocated for the Tallinn Digital Summit, the total costs of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2017 will come in over €7 million under budget.
"Today I am happy to say that optimizing costs and adding partners have allowed us to manage cost-effectively, and I can confirm that more than €7 million will be transferred back into the state budget," Piret Lilleväli, head of the organizing team of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU, said according to a presidency press release. Among other areas of savings, just €3.4 million of the €4 million budgeted was spent on the Tallinn Digital Summit in September.
"The greatest praise is the feedback from the guests," Lilleväli said about the organization of the half-year presidency. "The Estonian Ambassador to the EU Kaja Tael has also mentioned that foreign guests have been very happy. They have praised our organization as well as our food, and this shows that we can be pleased with the work of our entire team."
In total, over 1,300 people were involved with the Estonian EU presidency, 1,000 of whom were already working as civil servants; 330 temporary jobs were created for the team as well.
"All of these 1,300 people contributed to making Estonia better known across Europe," said the organizing team leader. "This was one of our biggest goals at the start of the Estonian presidency, and we have certainly succeeded. Together we have made Estonia great, and we have shown Europe that we are reliable partners. The more people know us in Europe, the safer we are in our country."
EU presidency to give way to Estonian centennial
Estonia's growing fame was also supported by the joint international program of the Estonian EU presidency and the country's centennial next year.
"I am especially happy that, during these six months, in addition to a larger than usual number of foreign events, several initiatives were brought to life as well," said Jorma Sarv, head of the International Program. "These are directly connected to the efforts made by various partners in Estonia and abroad which made this half-year a success. For example, there were big and important exhibitions in Brussels and Rome, the first international tour of the Estonian Festival Orchestra as well as the street art of Edward von Lõngus, which reached foreign coutnries."
While the cultural program of the Estonian presidency has concluded, Estonia will continue to be introduced worldwide under the country's centennial celebrations. "As the Estonian presidency began six months earlier, the international program grew half a year longer as well, and will be more concentrated next year during the Estonian jubilee," Sarv added.
The Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU began on July 1 and will formally continue through Dec. 31, after which the presidency will be handed off to Bulgaria for the first half of 2018.
For more facts and figures from the Estonian EU presidency, click here.
Editor: Aili Vahtla