Sunday

20th Aug 2017

Four EU states pass on post-Brexit agency spoils

  • Riga: Not the new home for one of the two EU agencies currently in London (Photo: Ivan Zanotti Photo)

Only four out of the 27 remaining EU member states do not want to host any of the two EU agencies currently located in the United Kingdom: Slovenia, and the three Baltic states – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Diplomatic sources told EUobserver that the four countries will not make a bid to become the new home for the European Banking Authority (EBA) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

On Tuesday (20 June), EU affairs ministers will meet in Luxembourg to discuss the procedure for deciding where to locate the EBA and EMA after the UK's exit from the EU.

Some twenty member states have said they wanted the EMA, whereas six said they would like to host the EBA – some want both.

In the end, EU member states themselves will decide on where the agencies should go, which means a lot of lobbying and tit-for-tat can be expected.

But Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Slovenia will not go through the laborious process of convincing their peers.

“The whole lobby process is resource-consuming,” said one diplomatic source.

The decisions not to make a bid are mostly based on an assessment of their chances.

“We have evaluated our chances, looked at it realistically,” said a Lithuanian diplomatic source, noting that the conclusion was not to make a bid for the agencies.

Another diplomatic source said the same about Lithuania's Baltic neighbour, Latvia.

The Latvian cabinet had a discussion about the possibility, and decided that the competition would be too heavy.

“We realistically looked at what a proposal would look like. It was just not feasible,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Estonian diplomatic sources also confirmed that they would not make a bid, noting they would focus their effort on holding the six-month EU presidency, which kicks off in two weeks.

A Slovenian diplomatic source said their government in Ljubljana had officially not made a decision, but given that the criteria on relocation will be discussed this week, and the expected deadline is 31 July, it is not likely that it will make a bid.

“We are a small country,” the source added, noting that it would be difficult for Slovenia to fulfil the requirements on the ground at short notice.

Size matters, or does it?

The modesty is notable since Slovenia and the Baltic nations are not the smallest EU countries, and some even smaller EU member states have announced that they want to provide a new home for one of the agencies.

The size argument was apparently not a decisive factor for Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Malta, which have fewer inhabitants altogether than Lithuania, Latvia, or Slovenia separately.

Luxembourg, which already hosts the European Investment Bank, the EU's translation services, offices of the European Parliament, and Eurostat, has argued that it has a “legal claim” to have the European Banking Authority.

The Grand Duchy pointed to a 1965 decision by the six members of the EU's predecessor, the European Community, saying that member state governments were “willing” to locate EU bodies in Luxembourg, “particularly those concerned with finance”.

Malta, which already hosts the European Asylum Support Office, wants to host the European Medicines Agency. So does Cyprus, which is one of the five EU members that currently does not have an agency in its territory.

School requirements

The new host cities would not only need to host staff and the agencies' visitors, but also have an international school for the staff members' children.

The European Medicines Agency has a staff of around 900, and the European Banking Authority has almost 200.

Slovenia's capital Ljubljana already has enough trouble hosting the children of the 92 employees of the EU's Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, which had been set up in 2011.

According to a European Parliament report adopted last April, the agency “has repeatedly signalled to the host member state the urgency of the establishment of an European School in Ljubljana”.

MEPs had “deplored” the fact that “more than four years after the entry into force of the agreement between the agency and the Slovenian government, no European School has been set up”.

A spokeswoman for Slovenia's ministry of education told EUobserver on Monday that the European school in Ljubljana will open on 1 September 2018.

The more than forty agencies are not evenly distributed across the EU.

Some countries making a bid for one of the Brexit agencies - such as Belgium, France, and Spain - already have four or more.

One is fine

But the Baltic countries and Slovenia seem pleased with the agencies they have.

Lithuania, which hosts the 43-staff European Institute for Gender Equality, is satisfied.

“We have one and we are happy with it,” said the Lithuanian source.

The agency in Latvia, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications Office, has only 27 workers – although the European Commission recently announced that it wants to increase the staff to around sixty.

The Estonia-based European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice, is somewhat larger – it has 140 members of staff.

After Tuesday's ministerial meeting in Luxembourg, the criteria for how to relocate the post-Brexit agencies are expected to be endorsed by EU leaders at Thursday's summit in Brussels.

EUobserved

Scramble for UK agencies paves way for Trumpian claims

The Spanish health minister this week bragged that Barcelona was “the best city”, had “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure” to host the EU's medicines agency post-Brexit.

Focus

Crowded race to win EU medicines agency

As cities line up to take over the European Medicines Agency some fear a kerfuffle that could destabilise the agency's work and slow down the pace of approving new medicines.

UK agrees to EU conditions on Brexit talks

In their first meeting, the EU's Michel Barnier and Brexit minister David Davis agreed that talks on future relations will start only when "sufficient progress" has been made on divorce proceedings.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

Europeans more optimistic about EU since Brexit vote

Perceptions of the EU have increased significantly in France, and Europeans generally feel more optimistic about the future of the bloc since last autumn - despite Brexit and a surge in populism.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  2. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  3. Martens CentreWeeding Out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  5. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  6. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  7. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  9. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School
  10. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCloser Energy Co-Operation Keeps Nordic Region on Top in Green Energy