Wednesday

24th Oct 2018

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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

Tug of war between 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' cohesion money

The European Commission has promised greater flexibility for local authorities when it comes to delivering on-the-ground results - but it has also tied cohesion policy to the European Semester, a tool used to coordinate macroeconomic policies.

Interview

Commissioner Cretu: the EU budget is 'very emotional'

Despite Brexit and new priorities, it is important to keep EU funds for all regions - rich and poor - argues the regions commissioner. But more controls, including a link to rule of law issues, are part of the discussion.

News in Brief

  1. EU commission sends back Italy's budget plan
  2. French CEO attends Saudi forum despite journalist murder
  3. Sacked Polish judges urged to return to work
  4. Italy's budget defence arrived in Brussels
  5. EU warns of nuclear race as US pulls out of treaty
  6. Spain and Sweden not stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia
  7. Piedmont and Copenhagen named top tourist destinations
  8. Bayer to compensate for carcinogenic weed killer

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. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. EU commission rejects Italy's budget plans
  2. Poland's liberal prodigy to take on EU populists
  3. Italy's M5S to unveil new EU group in January
  4. Cities are frontrunners in fight for social rights for all
  5. 'Integration' - the missing factor in new EU migration fund
  6. Unelected EU parliament official blocks release of #Metoo papers
  7. 'The kids aren't alt-right'
  8. Lone Merkel declares Saudi arms ban

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us