22nd Mar 2018

Amsterdam wins EU medicines agency on coin toss

  • EMA staff will now have to decide: move to Amsterdam or leave the agency (Photo: Piotr Chrobot)

The headquarters of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be moved to Amsterdam after Brexit, EU affairs ministers announced on Monday (20 November). The European Banking Authority, also currently in London, will move to Paris.

Amsterdam won EMA on a coin toss, after it ended with an equal number of votes with Milan in the third round of voting.

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  • Italy's bid to host EMA in Milan lost to Amsterdam in a coin toss (Photo: Nikita Andreev)

Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Milan had made it through to the second round, after securing the most votes, but no majority.

In a complex voting system, ministers had three votes to distribute during the first round, worth three, two, and one points. Only if a candidate had secured 14 three-point votes, would it had been chosen immediately.

In the first round, Milan received a total of 25 points while Amsterdam and Copenhagen received 20 votes each. Bratislava reportedly received 15; Barcelona 13; Stockholm 12; Athens 10; Porto 10; Warsaw and Bucharest 7; Brussels and Helsinki 5; Vienna 4; and Bonn, Lille and Sofia 3.

Who voted for which is confidential, but it stands to reason that Germany, France, and Bulgaria each gave their three-point votes to themselves, meaning that no other country voted for them.

In the second round, Copenhagen was eliminated. Neither Milan nor Amsterdam managed to have a majority.

A total of 19 member states had submitted a bid to host EMA, but shortly before the meeting Croatia, Ireland and Malta withdrew their candidacies.

The London-based EMA needs a new location for its headquarters, because the United Kingdom is expected to leave the EU in March 2019.

The decision follows months of intensive lobbying.

It means that some 890 staff members will now have to decided whether to stay with the agency - and thus move to Amsterdam - or find another job.

According to an internal poll, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Milan were among the five most popular cities with the staff, with over 65 percent of them saying they would stay with their employer.

European Banking Authority

The headquarters of the European Banking Authority (EBA), also currently in London, will move to Paris after Brexit.

Like with the EMA, two candidates tied after three voting rounds: Dublin and Paris. The EU presidency - held by Estonia - subsequently drew lots and Paris won. Eight cities had been a candidate to host the EBA.

This article was updated on 20 November 2017, 19:52, to include the result of the votes on EBA.

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

Click here to access EUobserver's entire magazine collection.

Italy brushes off southern alliance in EU agency race

Italy is promoting Milan as a new home for the London-based medicines agency. 'There are many talks. Everybody is talking to everybody else,' said the Italian state secretary of European affairs.

EU medicines agency reveals new home preferences

Staff said they preferred to move to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Milan, or Vienna. More than 70% said they would quit if the agency moved to Athens, Bratislava, Bucharest, Helsinki, Malta, Sofia, Warsaw, or Zagreb.


The EU Agencies Race

In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies, exploring how their location matters and the benefits for cities and regions to host them.

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