Saturday

7th Dec 2019

Italy brushes off southern alliance in EU agency race

  • Italy thinks Milan is the best place to host the European Medicines Agency, which will have to leave London after Brexit. (Photo: Joseph Pearson)

Italian state secretary of European affairs Sandro Gozi did not want to commit to a Greek proposal to have all Mediterranean EU countries support each others' bids to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

"There are many talks. Everybody is talking to everybody else," Gozi said on Monday (25 September) at a presentation of Italy's bid to host EMA.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Italy's EU minister, Gozi (r), speaking to the European Commission's second-in-command, Frans Timmermans. (Photo: Council of the European Union)

The London-based agency needs to be relocated after the UK leaves the EU. Its new location will be decided through a maximum of three rounds of votes at a November ministerial meeting in Brussels.

Earlier this month, Gozi's Greek colleague, alternate minister of foreign affairs Georgios Katrougalos, suggested that during the first round, Mediterranean member states - Cyprus, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain - should only give votes to each other.

When EUobserver asked Gozi at Monday's presentation what he thought of the idea, he declined to answer.

"I will say it is too early to unveil the strategy we are carrying out, otherwise it wouldn't be strategy," said Gozi.

Before the November vote, the European Commission will publish an assessment of all the bids. That paper, due by Saturday (30 September), is based on six criteria, which were determined by EU leaders last June.

The 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 taking into account past promises that agencies should be divided between member states as much as possible, particularly in those that do not host one yet.

Italy had also wanted the commission to produce a shortlist, but the EU executive will not do that.

The Italian centre-left politician said that Milan, which is Italy's candidate city for EMA, fulfils all the criteria.

"That is not the case for other bids," he said.

Criteria

"We want to promote something in the interest of European citizens. We talk about security and human health," said Gozi. "We want to ensure the good functioning of the single market. These are all specific conditions that we can ensure, that others cannot ensure."

When asked to specify which countries' bids did not fulfil the criteria, Gozi refused to give names.

"I think it would be very easy to identify these countries I was referring to when you read the very well-written and objective report of the European Commission on 30 September," he said.

Gozi left immediately after that, but while entering his car he told EUobserver that he had not yet seen the commission's report; "of course not".

So he could not know for sure that some countries' bids did not fulfil the criteria, or even that the report would be well-written, this website retorted. Gozi answered that he was "confident" of it.

Monday's presentation was the latest in a series of events in Brussels, to promote candidate cities' bids.

AC Milan vs Inter Milan

However, it had more of an impression of being targeted to a domestic audience.

The whole event was held in Italian, many of the audience members seemed to understand without interpretation, and there were hearty laughs at jokes referring to local Italian contexts.

State secretary Gozi was also accompanied by the Italian health minister, the president of the Lombardy region, and the mayor of Milan - the latter two stressing the remarkableness of their working together since they both supported different Milanese football teams: AC Milan and Inter Milan.

The Italian bid, submitted to the Council of the European Union, includes a building that is owned by Italy's northern Lombardy region. EMA could rent the building at a discounted price.

Italy has also allocated €59 million in taxpayer money to cover costs of changing features of the building "to ensure that it meets EMA's specific requirements, including the cost of acquiring furnishings and installations for the meeting rooms".

Gozi defended the allocation as "worthwhile", because it would "ensure the well-functioning of the agency, which is so important for the health of our citizens and for the in general the good functioning of Europe".

Read more on EU agencies 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.

Amsterdam wins EU medicines agency on coin toss

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.

News in Brief

  1. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says
  2. Report: Self-regulation of social media 'not working'
  3. Turkey: Greek expulsion of Libyan envoy 'outrageous'
  4. Merkel coalition may survive, says new SPD co-leader
  5. Von der Leyen Ethiopia visit a 'political statement'
  6. Over 5,500 scientists ask EU to protect freshwater life
  7. Iran defies EU and UN on ballistic missiles
  8. Committee of the Regions: bigger budget for Green Deal

Magazine

A deep dive into the EU regional funds

While the regional funds account for a full third of the EU budget, they are somewhat under-reported. EUobserver's latest edition of the Regions & Cities magazine looks at the EU's cohesion policy.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion
  2. UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK
  3. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  4. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  5. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  6. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  7. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  8. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us