Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

Romania: We 'deserve' an EU agency

  • Bucharest, one of the candidate cities to host the European Medicines Agency (Photo: Nico Trinkhaus)

One argument for choosing Romania to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is that it currently did not host any EU body, Romanian politicians said on Tuesday (26 September).

"Romania is the biggest country not having an agency running to host [EMA]," said deputy minister for European affairs Victor Negrescu at a presentation of Romania's bid in Brussels.

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  • Negrescu, a former MEP: 'What we refuse to do is to speak about others.' (Photo: European Parliament)

One of the slides used in the presentation said Romania "deserves" to host the EMA, which needs to move from its current location in London because the UK has chosen to leave the EU.

"We are speaking … about a relocation that is designed to respect a very important principle of the European level: fair geographical distribution of agencies across Europe," said Negrescu.

"This topic and this idea is quite an important one."

In the past, EU leaders promised twice that "priority" should be given to locate new EU agencies in countries that joined the bloc in 2004 or after.

This focus on "geographical spread" was one of six criteria laid down by EU leaders at a summit last June.

Romania said it adhered to all of the criteria, including having an office ready by the time Brexit happens - expected in March 2019.

Negrescu said that one building, big enough to host EMA's staff, was already finished, and that a second one would be ready by the end of 2017.

"Maybe other candidates do not have a building yet that is going be finished by the end of the year, that is quite important to underline," he said.

Negrescu refrained from attacking other candidate cities in his competitor states.

"What we refuse to do is to speak about others. We are fair, European partners to all member states and we don't want to comment on their candidacies," he said.

The European Commission is due to publish an assessment of the bids, based on the summit's criteria, by Saturday (30 September).

Following a debate at a summit in October, up to three rounds of voting will then take place in November.

Negrescu said member states were, "of course", already talking to each other about how to vote.

"What I can tell you today is that from what we know, no one has decided yet," he said.

"Everyone waits for the presentation that the Commission is going to do in the upcoming days."

The bidding process has also been a way for countries to showcase one or two of their cities.

In the case of Romania, its tourism ministry has been closely involved.

"We are using this opportunity to popularise Romanian tourism," said Negrescu.

Since the first promise for "geographical spread" in 2003, EU agencies have been opened in Poland, Hungary, Malta, the three Baltic states, and Slovenia.

However, the three financial bodies that were set up after the banking crisis were distributed among the three biggest member states: Germany, France, and the UK.

Romania, which joined in 2007, has no agency.

Neither do Slovakia (joined in 2004), Cyprus (2004), Bulgaria (2007), or Croatia (2013). Only Cyprus is not bidding to host EMA.

Terrorism alert

Romania is one of the few to mention terrorism in its official document applying to host EMA.

It referred to Romania's terrorist alert level as "Blue-Caution". The only other EU member state bidding to host EMA to refer to terrorism was Poland.

Negrescu said this was included because security is a top concern for EMA staff.

"The issue of security is an important one," said Victor Negrescu at a presentation of Romania's bid in Brussels.

"We underline the issue of security and the reason why we underline this fact is because we went to London, to meet the employees of the European Medicines Agency. The employees asked us about whether or not Bucharest is a secure city."

According to Negrescu, the issue of security "was the first question" EMA staff asked, and one that was underlined "several times" during the discussion.

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

Click here to access EUobserver's entire magazine collection.

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.

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