Saturday

7th Dec 2019

Commission begins process for EU agencies relocation

  • Two EU agencies will leave London because of Brexit (Photo: Bill Smith)

The European Commission published two legislative proposals on Wednesday (29 November) which will cement in law the decision to relocate two London-based EU agencies to Amsterdam and Paris due to Brexit.

The legislation governing the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be amended with the sentence that it "shall have its seat in Amsterdam, the Netherlands", while the European Banking Authority's (EBA) regulation will say the authority "shall have its seat in Paris, France".

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"The Commission is acting swiftly in order to provide legal certainty and clarity, ensuring that both agencies can continue to function smoothly and without disruption beyond March 2019," the Commission said in a press release.

March 2019 is when the UK is expected to leave the EU.

The two proposals need to be adopted by the Council of the EU, which represents national governments, and the European Parliament.

The commission said it expected the two institutions "to give priority to the handling of these legislative proposals" and added that they are "strictly limited to confirming the new seats of the agencies in the two founding regulations".

Being adopted in the Council should not be a problem, since the decision for Amsterdam and Paris was taken by the EU and foreign affairs ministers in a council meeting last week.

The parliament could, in theory, delay the whole process, which could bring uncertainty to the roughly 1,000 members of the two agencies.

In the so-called co-decision procedure, the parliament has the right to introduce amendments. If an amended version of the proposal is adopted, the commission would then have to mediate between the parliament's version and the council's.

That would lead to, as one EU source called it, "a mess".

A spokesman for the European People's Party, the largest group in the European Parliament, told this website that there was no formal agreement yet in the parliament how to proceed with these files.

Spokesman Jan Krelina for the European Conservatives and Reformists group, home to UK prime minister Theresa May's Conservative party, said it would treat the proposals "as any other legislation".

"There is no reason to delay it. We respect member states' decision so I don't expect any additional amendments from our side," said Krelina.

Similar responses came from the far left GUE/NGL group. Other groups did not respond to a request to comment.

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The staff of the London-based EMA will move to the Dutch city of Amsterdam after Brexit, following a coin toss. Chance also decided the new home of the European Banking Authority: Paris.

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The EU's chief Brexit negotiator dismissed reports on a 'deal' on the divorce bill with the UK, as the Irish border issue remains a key hurdle to move negotiations into the second phase after the December summit.

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