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EU presidency does not come cheap

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PHOTO: Liis Treimann / Postimees

Organizing the EU presidency in the old Tallinn power station called Kultuurikatel has required the investment of much effort and a lot of money. Numerous enterprises are cooperating in order to make everything run smoothly and pleasantly for the European political elite and spend the months of presidency without troubles. The Estonian state expends nearly four million euros on holding the EU presidency in the former boiler house.

Spending the four million allows one feel comfortable in the old power house, admire LED screens, organize efficient conferences in numerous rooms, enjoy modern design and refreshments by Estonia's best cooks – all for 3,299.525 euros and 20 cents.

The figure is likely to increase and the total cost can be summed up only once the presidency is over. “Precise cost of several services will depend on the volume of using them. For example, the tender for additional cleaning services besides the main one is still being prepared and we cannot announce its cost as yet”, said Greete Kempel, media adviser of the Government Office.

Attracted by the amount of space

The four most expensive services during the presidency are the creative solution of interior design of Kultuurikatel, which cost 905,772 euros and is carried out by Vaikla Stuudio OÜ; the rent of the facility, initially 810,000 euros, but the need for extra space called for leasing the D-block for further 63,500 euros – altogether 873,500 euros.

Catering provided by Carmen Caterings, a part of Argmar Grupp OÜ, which has previously organized catering for the presidential reception, costs 700,000 euros. The rent and technical support of conference equipment is provided by Eventech OÜ for 639,374 euros. The price includes  the interpreters' booths, video equipment and lighting.

Other services are less costly: security provided by Meeskond Security OÜ costs 39,999 euros, emergency power supply or reserve generators by Baltic Marine Group AS cost 79,982 euros, the rent of digital screens from OÜ Digiekraanid is 35,000 euros. The tents set up by the building by AS Telinekataja cost 34,898 euros. All these figures do not include VAT.

Kultuurikatel was chosen to host the presidency primarily thanks to the amount of rooms. Toomas Tirs, logistics manager of the presidency, says that the tender receives five bids. Two of them included the buildings, which did not exist at that moment and are yet to materialize. These were the Ülemiste City factory building and the Porto Franco shopping center.

The other two candidates were the Song Festival Ground building and the National Library. Tirs explains that the ministers' meetings require more than 40 rooms, a main hall and a number of various spaces for smaller units like cloakrooms, media booths, buffets etc.

“Kultuurikatel was effectively the only suitable building and there was not much to choose from”, Tirs said.

The tender was a victory for Kultuurikatel. Ivar Veerus, the building's financial and sales manager, said that the city of Tallinn in turn invested 1.01 million euros after the winning of the tender in order to complete 750 square meters of office space, clearing up the so-called wild garden, the historical Stuart Redoubt and some 1,700 square meters of stone pavement for the courtyard.

All construction work was completed by June 16 and the rooms were handed over to the Government Office on June 20. Kultuurikatel, which usually earns some 500,000 euros in a regular half-year, will make a profit worth approximately 300,000 euros, Veerus said.

Expensive Estonian design

The firm responsible for interior design was Vaikla Stuudio OÜ. The determining factors in choosing  the company were the most interesting and fascinating ideas as well as the acceptable cost. The procurement includes the rent, purchase and relocation of furniture.

The Government Office gave the firm considerable freedom regarding interior design. “The only limits were the ones concerning security and the requirements of presidency”, said Urmo Vaikla, head of Vaikla Stuudio. A number of different parties had to be considered: the Government Office protocol, the press and the Estonian National Broadcasting Company requirements, and of course security issues.

The leading principles of interior design were the existing industrial esthetics of the venue, natural materials and recycling. Expensive furniture by various Estonian designers has been used in the building.

For example, one can find 330-euro coffee tables and 360-euro chairs by Derelict, Saaremaa resort chairs worth 187 euros apiece, standard lamps designed by Tarmo Luisk (1,165 euros apiece) and 240-euro chairs by Toivo Raidmets. Everywhere in the rooms there are Estonian-made Click & Grow smart flowerpots, the cost of which begins at 60 euros. And these are only a small selection of  Estonian design used in the building. A pressed plywood sofa made by the former Luther factory is among the most expensive items. Vaikla Stuudio managers were unable to state the total cost, since a number of items are still on the way. These include cushions decorated with designs by Marko Mäetamm.

Vaikla Stuudio plans to sell the purchased items after the end of the presidency so as to recover the expenses. But some items will be donated to schools and libraries while the Click & Grow containers will be handed out as gifts. “We selected everything so that nothing should be thrown away”, says Tüüne-Kristin Vaikla, partner in Vaikla Stuudio.

Besides costs, the presidency has major economic impact on Estonia. It creates jobs, increases tax revenue and promises considerable growth of turnover for enterprises engaged in tourism and catering.

Greete Kempel, Government Office media adviser, said that most of the presidency budget will be used in Estonia; the profit thus remains in the country.

Latvia held the EU presidency in 2015 and spent 80 million euros.

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