Friday

19th Jan 2018

Interview

EU agencies criteria - a big step forward

  • The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, based in Bilbao, annually presents its work to citizens on Europe Day. (Photo: EU-OSHA)

Twenty-one member states are eager to host one or both EU agencies that will be forced to leave London after Brexit. But according to Ellen Vos, professor of European Union law at Maastricht University, there is little evidence-based rationale behind that scramble.

"Member states think it is lucrative to host an agency," she told EUobserver in an interview in her office in the Dutch city of Maastricht. "It is often said that hosting an EU agency leads to economic benefits for the host country, but as far as I know there has never been any scientific research that proved that hypothesis."

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.

However, hosting an agency does bring prestige, "it puts your country on the map," she said.

Vos is an expert on EU agencies, and leading project partner of an international academic research network that focuses on them. In a recent call for papers, the network had to refuse a number of people, which Vos said shows "how surprisingly much scientific interest there is in this issue of EU agencies."

Agencification

The research community speaks of "agencification", a process whereby more and more executive power is transferred to bodies not located in Brussels. "Sometimes member states prefer setting up an agency because of a mistrust towards the European Commission and Europeanisation," said Vos. "If powers are delegated to an agency, an advantage for member states is that the management board of the agency often consists of representatives of member states."

The more than forty agencies and so-called joint undertakings are largely unknown to the general public, she said.

However, Vos questioned whether agencies should exert much effort in trying to show their work to citizens and "form a dialogue" with them. "I'm sure agencies want to, but should they?"

She called on agencies to be realistic. "You can only spend your budget once. Maybe the European Union as a whole can take up that task, but should each individual agency be responsible for a communication strategy? I haven't made up my mind yet about that, but I doubt it."

Vos added that she thought the news reports about the forced relocation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and European Banking Authority (EBA) will lead to a greater citizens' awareness of agencies.

The professor praised the EU institutions' publication of a set of objective criteria to help determine the new seats of the EMA and EBA as "a big step forward".

Geographical spread

The six criteria are: completion of new office by the date of Brexit, accessibility of the location, presence of international schools, job opportunities for spouses, business continuity, and "geographical spread". The last one refers to past promises that agencies should be divided between member states as much as possible, particularly in those that do not host agencies yet.

"In recent years, the geographical distribution has been a guiding principle," Vos said. "I don't think it will be anymore, nor should it. I think we should determine where an agency can best fulfil its tasks, and accessibility plays an important part."

She adds: "If you host the European Medicines Agency in a place that is difficult to reach, not only experts but also patient organisations with smaller budgets will perhaps have trouble visiting."

The EU commission is expected to publish an assessment of the bids - based on the criteria - by the end of September, which means Saturday (30 September) by the latest. Member states will discuss the assessment in October and are due to vote on the relocation in November.

However, Vos noted that "in the end" objective criteria alone will not determine the new EBA and EMA seats, but instead, "a lot of politics and strategic interests will be involved".

Infographic by Council of the European Union. (Photo: Council of the European Union)

This story was originally published in EUobserver's 2017 Regions & Cities Magazine.

Click here to access EUobserver's entire magazine collection.

EU agency relocation race starts with 23 cities

Cities from 21 countries have applied to host the two London-based EU agencies, which will have to be relocated after Brexit, with Luxembourg throwing its hat in for the banking authority.

Relocation of EU agencies could save money

The EU agencies that will leave London after Brexit are likely have a financial windfall of several million euros a year, because of the way EU salaries are calculated.

EU agency bids assessment brings 'nothing new'

The commission said it did not have time to look beyond the documents each of the contending member states sent to the Council of the EU, which were already public.

Magazine

EU agencies: The road to 'douze points'

The European Medicines Agency and, to a lesser extent, the European Banking Authority, was the most sought-after EU agencies in 2017, as no less than 21 member states competed to host them after Brexit.

Magazine

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  2. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  3. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed
  4. Bad loans in EU decrease to 2014 levels
  5. UK demand for EIB loans dropped in 2017
  6. EIB president: Juncker fund has worked
  7. Moscovici calls for more transparency on tax havens list
  8. Commission proposes VAT overhaul

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia
  2. Taking full benefit of supercomputers in Europe
  3. Spitzenkandidat system 'difficult to get rid of', hopes lead MEP
  4. Rights NGOs face fresh threats across the EU, agency says
  5. EIB 'more sensitive' to fraud after Dieselgate, chief insists
  6. EU 'hypocrisy' condemns people to Libya, says NGO
  7. Next year's EU election at risk of Russian meddling
  8. Hungary to tax NGOs that 'help' migration

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap