Wednesday

30th Nov 2022

Magazine

EU agency bids assessment brings 'nothing new'

The European Commission's assessment of offers to host two London-based EU agencies after Brexit, published over the weekend, are basically summaries of the already public bids.

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, where national governments meet.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The EU's executive also relied on member states telling the full truth in their bids and "has therefore not undertaken any steps to verify the information provided in the offer".

"The Commission has not asked member states to clarify or complete their offers in order to put all of them on the same footing."

The result is 27 matrices - 19 for candidates to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and eight for those that offer a new home to the European Banking Authority (EBA).

For each of the factual part of six criteria, decided by EU leaders last June, the commission specified how those criteria were met.

The commission provided no ranking or shortlist, in accordance "with its mandate".

'Nothing new'

Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori, whose city is running to host the EMA, said his city's strengths "were not really sufficiently identified in the assessment".

"The commission's assessment was very technical and didn't bring anything essentially new to the race," Vapaavuori told EUobserver in a written statement.

However, his country's minister of social affairs and health saw things differently.

"The commission's assessment summary confirms that Helsinki meets the key criteria and offers an excellent location for the European Medicines Agency," said minister Pirkko Mattila, "with a smile", according to a press release.

Romania's deputy minister for European affairs Victor Negrescu told EUobserver on Monday he believed the commission's "evaluation grid" of Romania is a positive one that will "strengthen" the eastern European country's bid to host EMA in Bucharest.

He said that, in addition to Romania not having an agency yet, the assessment showed "that our bid is complete and substantial and that, from a technical standpoint, we have been able to address all key criteria".

The commission's assessment meticulously identified every possible subset of criteria, like availability of wifi access. Every bid that did not specify the building has wifi access, would receive a sentence saying : "The offer does not provide information on the availability of wifi".

The Dutch bid, for example, did not include that information, or data on the "availability of an on-site archive rooms".

A spokesperson for the Dutch ministry of health retorted that the building is tailor-made and includes all necessary features.

"Our offer also doesn't say anything about toilets in the building, but obviously they'll have them," the spokesperson said.

Although the commission was not allowed to say which criteria were more important than others, it did offer some tips on how to achieve "business continuity".

It stressed the importance of accessibility, for example.

"In light of experience from other agencies where accessibility issues have caused practical difficulties as well as additional costs, the Commission advises not to overlook the importance of the availability of direct flights from and to EU capitals and the connections from airports to the location," it said.

The commission also said the "possibility for the agencies to maintain the current staff is also essential for business continuity".

EMA staff survey

However, it omitted from the assessment any reference to a recent press release about a worrying survey among EMA staff, which said that eight of the 19 cities would, if chosen, lead to "permanent damage to the system".

The survey, which was completed by 92 percent of the drugs agency's staff, showed many of them considered quitting after relocation from London.

It showed the popularity of 19 candidate countries, but in an anonymised fashion.

Even if the most popular candidate member state were chosen to host EMA, the potential staff loss would be 19 percent.

If the most unpopular country would be chosen, a whopping 94 percent said they could quit.

Nine of the nineteen candidates would lead to around half of the staff or more leaving, according to EMA's estimate.

According to the press release, this would lead to patients being "exposed to side effects - deaths - litigation".

Next steps

Because the assessment did not lead to any of the candidates being dropped, all of them are still in the race. At a summit later this month, EU leaders will discuss the assessment.

Then, next month, interior and EU affairs ministers will decide on the new location of EMA and EBA through a secret vote, where political dealings can play a role in the outcome.

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

Click here to access EUobserver's entire magazine collection.

Magazine

London prepares to say goodbye to EU agencies

The relocation of the EMA and the EBA after Brexit will leave a hole that will need to be filled, but opinion is divided among local business people as to whether the agencies will be missed.

Bank agency shuns EU invitations

The EU's banking agency is not visiting cities that want to host the agency post-Brexit "to ensure objectivity". The medicines agency has no such qualms.

Interview

EU agencies criteria - a big step forward

Agencies expert Ellen Vos thinks "a lot of politics" will be involved in EU decision on new location for EMA and EBA, but accessibility should be a bigger factor.

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.

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.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  2. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  3. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?
  4. EU carbon-removal scheme dubbed 'smokescreen for inaction'
  5. EU lawmakers under pressure to act on 90,000 asbestos deaths
  6. Post-COP27 optimism — non-Western voices are growing
  7. Legal scholars: Prosecuting Putin 'legally problematic'
  8. A missed opportunity in Kazakhstan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us