Pierre de Boissieu has sought to put the cost of the Convention, due to start on February 28, into some sort of perspective. He recalls that a two-day EU summit costs between Euro 11 and 15 million, a special EU envoy or representative between three and five million a year and the open debate on the Future of Europe in 2001 costs four million. At this stage of the planning, the Convention Secretariat should include between 15 and 17 officials from the three institutions. The secretariat is due to be installed in the Council premises, where 30 or so offices have to be fitted out and translation and interpretation staff have to be on hand. The entire logistical exercise is set to cost about 30 million in real terms but the General Secretariat stresses that the offices would have had to been occupied anyhow, and the official would have had to be paid anyhow. So, all things being equal, it is more a question of moving the work load than running up any direct costs.Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the Convention President, is anxious about his status as a former French President, and is also keen on asserting the political authority and financial independence of his new tasks. So he is making requests of a more personal nature not only for him but also for the two Vice-Presidents, Guilio Amato and Jean-Luc Dehaene. These are the three "independent" figures in this forum, with the other members being accountable to their original institutions (governments, national parliaments, European Parliament). Mr de Boissieu says that as Mr Giscard d'Estaing plans to spend three or four days in Brussels and will be accompanied at all times, as an erstwhile head of state, by several security officers, special accommodation has to be provided, presumably in a high-class hotel. Moreover any experts the Presidium decides to convene will have to be remunerated. Then there is the tricky issue of the fees for Messrs Giscard d'Estaing, Amato and Dehaene. Several delegations are quite taken aback by the idea. Some point out that the President of the Convention called to prepare for the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Roman Herzog, received only expenses. Others stress that the Finnish general, Gustav Hagglund, who chairs the Political and Security Committee (PSC), is paid by his...

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