During Finland’s EU Presidency in 2019, Helsinki will host six informal meetings of ministers and dozens of meetings of officials. In line with the practice of recent holders of the presidency, Finland will hold all meetings to be paid for from the EU Presidency budget in a single location in the capital city.
Finlandia Hall was selected as the venue following a competitive tendering process. The choice of venue took into account the facility requirements specified for EU meetings, the costs and the venue’s availability on the dates in question.
“Having a centralised venue in the capital is an economically advantageous solution. It saves time, money and staff resources. For example, once the arrangements are planned and put in place, there is no need to dismantle or transfer them, as they can be used in most of the meetings. Having a venue in the centre of the capital also means that the best transport connections are close at hand,” says Head of the Secretariat for Finland’s EU Presidency Anja Laisi from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Finlandia Hall will host informal meetings of the finance, competitiveness, environment, agriculture and justice and interior ministers. A joint meeting of the foreign and defence ministers will also be held. In addition, Finlandia Hall will host meetings of officials.
All formal meetings of Heads of State or Government and of ministers will be held in accordance with normal practice in Brussels and Luxembourg during Finland’s EU Presidency. The idea is also that all informal meetings of Heads of State or Government arranged during Finland’s EU Presidency will be held in Brussels, with the EU responsible for both the arrangements and the costs.
Finland’s forthcoming EU Presidency will be its third and will cover the six-month period 1 July – 31 December 2019. Finland’s previous Presidencies were in 1999 and 2006.
Arrangements already well under way
The practical arrangements for the meetings to be held in Finland are the responsibility of the Secretariat for Finland’s EU Presidency, which has been set up in the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Up to the start of the Presidency there are twenty of us altogether. We are currently busy with the preparations that cover the Presidency as a whole, and putting together the meetings calendar and site arrangements. Now that the venue has been chosen, we can get up to speed with the details, too,” says Anja Laisi, who also led the Secretariat during Finland’s second Presidency in 2006.
For the second Presidency the total budget was EUR 75 million, at 2006 prices. A sum of EUR 70 million has been reserved for Finland’s EU Presidency in 2019. This covers all the costs of the Presidency, including additional personnel and the meeting arrangements.