Monday

23rd Oct 2017

Slovakia fights EMA staff rejection of Bratislava

  • Bratislava is 'a regular good city', said Slovakia's health minister (Photo: Victor van Werkhooven)

Staff at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are reluctant to exchange London for Bratislava because they "don't know" the Slovak capital, the country's minister of health, Tomas Drucker, said in Brussels on Thursday (5 October).

He responded to a survey of EMA staff, published by the EU agency this week. The poll said if Bratislava is selected as the new host city, at least 72 percent of the staff would prefer to quit their jobs instead of moving there.

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.

  • Health minister Tomas Drucker will need to convince EMA staff that Bratislava is actually an attractive city to live in (Photo: Council of the European Union)

Ninety-two percent of EMA staff had answered the questions in the survey.

While presenting Bratislava's bid to host EMA on Thursday, Drucker compared his city to some of the other 18 competing destinations.

"If you compare Barcelona, Milan and Bratislava - it's clear we cannot compete from a marketing point of view," Drucker told EUobserver in an interview after the presentation.

But he added that: "If we see the statistics, we can beat [them]."

He said that once people have had some experience of the Central European city, they will see: "ah, it's a regular good city".

"We must convince them," said Drucker.

If Bratislava is chosen, the Slovak government will organise "field trips" for EMA staff to introduce them to the capital and the rest of the country.

EMA published the survey results on Tuesday (3 October), along with its review of the 19 bids.

The agency used four colours to rank how well criteria are met.

Slovakia received dark green (the best) for the lay-out and the facilities of the proposed building, and light green (second best) for its relocation plan, and education facilities for the children of EMA staff members.

However, the worst colour, dark orange, was applied to the criteria that assess the accessibility of the proposed new office.

EMA's assessment criticised the "very low flight connectivity" to other European capitals from Bratislava's airport, and that the offer "heavily relies on two airports in two other member states" - Austria and Hungary.

Viktor Stromcek, deputy minister of transport and construction, told EUobserver that he was taken aback by the criticism.

"I really don't understand how it's possible that it's happened," said Stromcek. "Infrastructure is something that is not up for discussion."

The deputy minister said the proximity to Vienna's international airport, Schwechat, some 60 km away, should be taken into account.

"Everybody around Bratislava thinks Schwechat is our airport as well," said Stromcek.

When EUobserver suggested that a potential return to border checks could be a reason not to include Austria's airport, Stromcek said that that we still have "a perfect Schengen", referring to the passport-free European travel area.

"We can travel in the whole of Europe without borders," he noted.

EU leaders will discuss the bids for EMA - as well as those for hosting the European Banking Authority - at the EU summit later this month. A final decision will be taken in November.

(Photo: Council of the European Union)

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.

Romania: We 'deserve' an EU agency

Deputy minister for European affairs highlights that Romania is 'the biggest country not having an agency', as one of the arguments to vote for Bucharest to host the medicines agency.

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.

Magazine

History of the agencies (re)shuffle

The history of how EU agency seats were established shows that political deal-making, not logic or objective criteria, is the decisive factor.

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. May: EU member states will not lose out with Brexit
  2. Slovakia pledges to be 'pro-European' oasis in region
  3. Report: Catalan leader to address Spanish senate
  4. Fiat-Chrysler 'obstructed justice' reports Le Monde
  5. EU presidency 'confident' on posted workers agreement
  6. Young conservatives boot out Erdogan's party
  7. Tsipras urged to let refugees go before winter sets in
  8. Thousands demand justice in Malta

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  2. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  4. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  5. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  6. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  7. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  10. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  11. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  12. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe