Saturday

16th Dec 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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

Commission wants more centralised eurozone by 2019

EU leaders will discuss at their summit next week the commission's proposals, which include a European Monetary Fund and an EU finance minister - but no eurozone budget, as proposed by French president Emmanuel Macron.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives