About 1,300 people in total are involved with the Presidency. These people are not all located in one place, but are divided between Brussels and Estonia. The Government Office is responsible for the Presidency preparation and its implementation, which includes the Estonian European Union secretariat – which the team coordinating Estonia’s EU Presidency is also a part of.
Working groups managed by Estonia as the holder of the Presidency are divided between the ministries – each ministry is responsible for the themes concerning their field at the Council of the European Union level during the Presidency.
In order to use the Presidency as an opportunity to raise the European Union-related competence of the entire public sector, the majority of the required employees shall be recruited from the current government workforce, and shall then receive additional duties for a fixed term. As it is a very intensive period of work, additional people are also necessary for certain roles. Up to 335 temporary additional positions are planned in total for all departments from the central budget of the Presidency.
The Government Office is responsible for the strategic planning of the Presidency, helps prepare the Presidency and manages the cooperation of various parties. It also centrally organises the high-level meetings and conferences taking place in Estonia during the Presidency. The Police and Border Guard Board shall ensure the security of these events, as well as good traffic flow.
Estonia as the holder of the Presidency is responsible for managing a total of approximately 200 different working groups; therefore a large part of the wider team of the Presidency is occupied precisely with that – working group managers, assistant managers and experts. The work of working group managers, and developments related to broader themes, are directed by theme managers within the ministries.
A communication coordinator operates in each ministry, who communicates matters related to the ministry’s working group and topics to the media and the public. The HR employees, protocol experts and persons organising training in the ministries are also joined to the Presidency. During the Presidency ministries shall organise various meetings, visits and conferences for discussing matters important to their field.
The management of working groups has been divided between ministries during the Presidency, but they will still meet in Brussels. The other European Union institutions and international media dealing with covering EU issues are also located there. Therefore the main thrust of the Presidency and daily operational management shall be centred there.
It is important to strengthen the permanent representation of Estonia to the European Union with essential core personnel, as well as support and technical staff. The managers of working groups that meet more frequently shall be seconded to work in Brussels before the Presidency.
Before and during the Presidency the size of the team at the Estonian representation has been projected to be 190 persons instead of the current 90. The positions have been divided between the ministries according to the number of working groups, work frequency, and the number and priority of initiatives in process. The plan is that the entire team can fit into the existing building of the permanent representation of Estonia to the European Union.
New structures shall not be created for the management and operation of the permanent representation, however those responsible for the fields shall be divided into teams by theme, exactly in the same manner as work will proceed at the ministries during the Presidency as well.
The Government Office Presidency team
The Presidency team has been established within the Government Office’s European Union secretariat, which deals with organising and coordinating staff recruitment, development and support, also the coordination and organisation of Presidency communications, cultural programmes, logistics and support activities.
The staffing team of the Presidency preparation unit is responsible for organising the Presidency’s leading roles, such as filling the roles of the managers and assistant managers of working groups, theme managers and several support roles, as well as central staff development.
The Government Office Presidency events organisation unit is responsible for coordinating events and ensuring services and organising the necessary procurements. The coordination of events involves not only the central planning and organisation of the events both before and during the Presidency, but also coordination of the activities with the Estonia 100 organising team.
Developing the team
A prerequisite of a successful Presidency is a well-chosen and prepared team. If so far we have been one member state among the others, then now our people must manage the work of various trans-European working groups. This requires negotiating skills on the highest level, experience in managing international relations and a lot of other skills, which few currently have.
The Presidency preparations involve focused development and training programmes for the team. It has been taken into account when planning the development and training activities that the knowledge and skills obtained and the networks that have developed would remain in use even after the Presidency in the daily activities of the Estonian public service. This shall enable us to raise our capacity to also effectively be involved in various decision-making processes of the European Union in the future.
The development and training activities of the Presidency staff were commenced in the first half of 2016 and they will continue until February 2017. The centrally-organised development and training activities are financially supported by the European Union Social Fund.