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Finnish EU presidency cost €26m less than expected

The six-month term's climate theme was reinforced by carbon offsets and no-frills arrangements.

Helsingissä pidetyn epävirallisen valtiovarainministerikokouksen osallistuja ryhmäkuvassa.
Helsinki hosted a series of ministerial meetings last autumn. Image: Roni Rekomaa / EPA-EFE

Finland's six-month term as president of the Council of the European Union came in well under budget, the government said on Thursday.

Finland chaired and hosted EU meetings and steered its agenda from July through December 2019.

The government had budgeted 81.3 million euros to cover presidency costs, but the final price tag was about one-third lower at 55 million euros.

The main budget for Finland’s Presidency, which covers expenses for meetings and human resources as well as presidency organisation costs, was originally 70 million euros, 25 million of which was to be spent on meeting arrangements. The Interior Ministry also received a separate sum earmarked for security arrangements around meetings in Helsinki.

The Council of State says that money was saved by limiting the number of meetings and making them more efficient. Money usually spent on souvenirs and gifts was instead redirected to offsetting flight emissions.

Near-agreement on emissions target

Climate leadership was one of the main themes of the term. Finland nearly succeeded in its goal of an EU commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050. However the deal was only reached among the other states after coal-driven Poland announced it would not take part.

Competitiveness and respect for the rule of law were the other main themes of the term, which took place during a period of turmoil in Europe – dominated by Brexit – and at home, with labour and political disputes leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Antti Rinne just before the end of the presidency.

In January, Croatia took over the rotating presidency until June.

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