France's EU presidency most expensive in history: Report

The staggering costs of the presidency also included the installation of a state-of-the-art shower, worth 250,000 pounds, for France's flamboyant President Nicolas Sarkozy's sole use during a three-day summit last year at Grand Palace in Paris, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

Though the luxury shower was built to exact specifications for the 5ft 5in leader and came complete with "power" and "massage" jet settings, Sarkozy didn't use it at all, a report by France's national audit office has revealed.
Air conditioning was also installed, along with air flows to ensure it did not steam up too much, says the report. But, Sarkozy ignored the refurbished accommodation in favour of his official residence the Elysee Palace, ten minutes away.

Referring to the refurbishment of the Palace, the British newspaper quoted the report as saying: "The Grand Palace had to be completely refitted for the occasion, and 500 technicians were mobilised every day, including 300 at night."

Almost one million pounds was spent on the opening dinner for the 43 heads of state attending the summit. This worked out at more than 23,000 pounds per head for dignitaries who included Gordon Brown, the audit report said.
Around 300,000 pounds was spend on the conference podium alone, with 90,000 pounds going on a new carpet and 195,000 pounds allocated to sprucing up the palace gardens, it added.
Jean Arthuis, head of the Senate finance committee in Paris, blamed the costs on poor management by Sarkozy's staff. "Not all the 500 events organised by French presidency were essential and their number did not contribute to the French success," he was quoted as saying.
However, the Elysee Palace has declined to comment on the revelations in the accounts.

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