Tuesday

17th Oct 2017

EU sets out criteria for relocating UK agencies

  • London will wave goodbye to the EU banking and medicines regulator in 2019 (Photo: Rob Bye)

EU countries bidding to host the bloc’s banking and drugs regulators after Brexit will have to submit their entries by 31 July.

According to an 18-page document circulated among member states earlier this week, a decision will be made by October on which city should host the now London-based European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA).

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The document, seen by the Financial Times and Bloomberg, was co-authored by European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

It says the relocated agencies must be functional by the time the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

The criteria say that no country can host both agencies and that cities will have to be able to provide hotel space for an average 30,000 visitors a year for the medicines agency and 9,000 people for the banking regulator.

The new host city must have adequate international schooling for the staff’s children and needs to provide space for the drug agency’s archive of 34,000 boxes.

The two agencies employ more than 1,000 staff.

The criteria also cites a 2003 principle to place new agencies in new member states as something to be taken into account during the decision making, but the document points out that finding a new home for the two agencies means relocation rather than setting up a new agency.

Currently, no EU body is based in Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Cyprus, or Slovakia.

More than 20 EU countries are vying for one or both of the agencies.

The Commission will assess applications by mid-September and EU ministers will decide in October.

There will be rounds of voting until two finalists emerge and the winner will need a majority of votes from fellow EU members.

The relocation will come with sizeable costs that the EU expects Britain to pay for.

The EMA will have to pay rent of €16 million a year for its London headquarters until 2039 based on a recently signed lease without the possibility to get out of the agreement before that.

The EBA’s rent runs until 2020, but the agency can leave early if it pays a fee of around €3 million.

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The Spanish health minister this week bragged that Barcelona was “the best city”, had “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure” to host the EU's medicines agency post-Brexit.

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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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