Sunday

24th Mar 2019

Interview

London Assembly chair hopes EU agencies can stay

  • 'So many people like living in London because of ... the London buzz' (Photo: Paul Hudson)

The chairwoman of the London Assembly still has hopes that one or both EU agencies located in the UK capital can stay after Brexit.

"I think the top three European cities are London, Paris, and Berlin," said Jennette Arnold, who chairs the elected body that holds the London mayor accountable.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But when EUobserver asked her to assess whether the French and German capitals, therefore, have the biggest chance of winning the competition to host the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) after Brexit, Arnold did not want to give a preference.

"I'm not going to speak. I hope not, because I don't want them to leave," Arnold said about the agencies.

Arnold represents three London boroughs - Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest - home to almost 800,000 Londoners.

Hackney directly borders the borough where the two EU agencies are located.

"I'm sure, for instance, many of these people [working in EU agencies] might live in my constituency. I don't want them to leave. Their children might be going to the schools in my constituency."

"I have an analogy, it's like this lovely tapestry. Once you start to pull a thread out, you notice it. We all bring something to our city."

Jennette Arnold is a member of the Labour party, a Remainer, self-proclaimed socialist, and wholehearted supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

"I'm a Corbynista - I say this with pride."

She also preferred to say that the Remain side received 49 percent of the vote in the 23 June 2016 EU referendum, even though it received 48.1 percent. Arnold spoke of the Brexit side's 51 percent, even though the Leave campaign got 51.9 percent.

"51 point something," she said when EUobserver pointed out the error.

"No, they didn't get 52, because I'm a Remainer. So I'm more likely to round mine up," she said, whilst laughing.

And although EU leaders agreed last month on a voting procedure to select the new hosts for the two EU agencies currently in London, Jennette Arnold said there could still be a future in London for one or both of the agencies.

She noted that if the agencies leave London, then jobs will leave with them too. But it is also about "prestige" and the positive impact the agencies have had on London's universities and research communities.

"Of course I understand that you would want your banking agency ... within the Union, but these are different times. This is two hours away by Eurostar," she said jovially, referring to the high-speed rail service between London and Brussels.

"It is not rational to say the EBA of Europe can be outside [of the EU], but we don't know what the agreement [between UK and EU] will be. So it's almost like: maybe we will become the offshore."

Arnold noted that the people working at the EU agencies enjoy their lives in London.

"These people who work in these areas, they want more out of life than just to work. They are working so hard, they need an aspect of life which they find in London. So many people like living in London because of, we call it, the London buzz."

She noted that there are questions around whether the agencies can continue to recruit and retain staff, because of the uncertainty, and that this "has got to be taken into consideration" when discussing the agencies' future.

"Without seeing the deal, I'm not going to become pessimistic. … They say an optimist has a better journey towards the end," she said.

Transition period

Arnold made her suggestions on the day the UK government produced several position papers on Brexit - some days before the next round of talks begin in Brussels on Monday (17 July).

One of those papers opened the door for a transitional period, during which an EU agency may temporarily continue to operate out of the UK.

"The UK recognises the need, in the context of an overall settlement on withdrawal, for certain privileges and immunities to apply for a limited period after exit, in order to permit the EU a reasonable time in which to wind up its current operations in the UK," the paper said.

Committee of the Regions

Arnold spoke to EUobserver on Thursday (13 July) in Brussels, where she attended a plenary meeting of the Committee of the Regions (CoR).

The CoR is one of the EU's advisory bodies, and is asked for (non-binding) input on legislation. It is also a way for local administrators from across the EU to keep in touch.

UK members of the body will have to leave after Brexit.

But the London Assembly chairwoman is not afraid that contact with other European cities will cease after what she called E-day, the UK's exit day.

"National governments - they do what they do. Cities will always cooperate among themselves," she said.

Read more on EU agencies in EUobserver's 2017 Regions & Cities Magazine.

Click here to access EUobserver's entire magazine collection.

Grim forecast for UK banks after Brexit

Banks will need up to $50 billion in extra capital and see higher costs of $1 billion to diversify out of the UK after Brexit, a top consultancy has said.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Feature

'Swexit' off menu at election for first time in 24 years

The Swedish Left Party have abandoned euroscepticism to campaign on climate change - whilst the hard-right Sweden Democrats spy possibilities of a link up with Matteo Salvini of Italy and France's Marine Le Pen.

Opinion

Brexit vs Grexit: The six stages of losing to the EU

Theresa May's venture seems very similar to the attempt by Alexis Tsipras in 2015 to persuade Brussels to accept his terms for the bail out - a huge negotiation failure, presented to the public as the best possible deal.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us