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Europe

France's EU Presidency Set to Break Spending Record

The French government has budgeted a record-breaking 190 million euros ($300 million) for its six-month EU presidency. The sum is 16 times what the British Foreign Office spent on its presidency in 2005.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy gestures

Not a cheap job

The French government has not discussed what the money would be spent on, or whether competitive bids were issued for contracts granted by the office of President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the French internet daily MediaPart, which initially broke the story.

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.

Too much money?

One lawmaker from the opposition Socialist Party said that the large budget made little sense because France's EU presidency, which starts Tuesday, June 1, 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, MediaPart reported.

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