Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

EU agency relocation race starts with 23 cities

  • The European Banking Authority will have to leave its London headquarters after Brexit. Eight cities have applied to host it. (Photo: EBA)

EU countries will have to choose between 23 cities to host the two London-based EU agencies, which will have to be relocated after Brexit, in a selection process that started on Tuesday (1 August) and should be completed before the end of the year.

Monday was the last day to apply, and the list was published on Tuesday by the Council of the EU, where representatives of member states meet.

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

Nineteen cities applied to the host the European Medicines Agency (EMA): Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Bonn, Bratislava, Brussels, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Helsinki, Lille, Milan, Porto, Sofia, Stockholm, Malta, Vienna, Warsaw, and Zagreb.

The competition to host the European Banking Authority (EBA) will be composed of eight cities: Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris, Prague, Luxembourg-City, Vienna, and Warsaw.

Four of them - Brussels, Dublin, Vienna and Warsaw - are candidates for both agencies, while two countries, France and Germany, present a city for each agency - Lille and Bonn for the EMA, Paris and Frankfurt for the EBA.

Six countries - Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia - have not presented a candidate.

In the first step of the process, the European Commission will give an "objective assessment" of the applications on 30 September.

Criteria include the "accessibility of the location", "adequate education facilities for the children of staff members" and "appropriate access to the labour market, social security and medical care for both children and spouses."

"We're talking about human beings and their future choice of a new city where they will be living," EU commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said on Tuesday.

The criteria also specify that the agencies must be able to take up its functions in the new location at the date of Brexit and still be able to "attract highly qualified staff".

The choice will also have to take into account the so-called geographical spread - an effort to have agencies in as many member states as possible. This was introduced in 2003, just before ten new countries joined the EU.

Complex procedure

After the commission hands in its assessment, the selection process will be discussed by EU leaders at their summit in October, and a final decision is expected in November.

EU affairs ministers will first vote to choose the EMA location, before voting on the EBA's new city, using a complex voting system that could end up with Estonia, the current EU presidency, "drawing lots" if there is no winner after three rounds.

Members states, which will almost all have to take a decision while having at least one candidate, said the process that they set up will "be fair and transparent". But there is no guarantee that political horse-trading will not take place behind the scenes.

"I will tell you that the process is fair and transparent when we have won," Luxembourg's EU ambassador, Georges Friden, quipped on Tuesday.

On Monday, Luxembourg was one of the last countries to make its application official. The country aims to host the European Banking Authority (EBA).

The Grand Duchy, whose economy is based on financial services and which already hosts the Court of Justice of the EU, the Court of Auditors, the European Investment Bank and the European Stability Mechanism, says it is "the natural choice" for the EBA.

"It would once again confirm Luxembourg's situation as both a European capital and a financial centre," the ambassador said.

'Critical advantage'

He argued that the EBA "cannot interrupt its functioning for any length of time" and that Luxembourg's "experience of the workings of that type of institutions is of course a critical advantage."

Referring to revelations on tax rulings that helped companies to avoid taxes, he said that Luxembourg "has always been applying relevant EU rules" and that the issue should not be taken into account.

Luxembourg also insists that a building, which could be adapted to the EBA, has already been built, and that it would be rent-free for a period that would have to be negotiated.

Luxembourg's main competitors are Paris, where the European Securities and Markets Authority (Esma) is located, and Frankfurt, which is home to the European Central Bank and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (Eiopa).

Earlier this year, the Grand Duchy said that a decision taken by member states in 1965 gave it legal grounds to claim the EBA.

The 1965 decision states that member states are "willing to locate in Luxembourg, or to transfer thereto, other Community bodies and departments, particularly those concerned with finance".

But the ambassador said on Tuesday that, with a selection process now agreed for the relocation of the EBA, "it would not be appropriate to unleash a massive legal debate".

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

Click here to access EUobserver's entire magazine collection.

Relocation of EU agencies could save money

The EU agencies that will leave London after Brexit are likely have a financial windfall of several million euros a year, because of the way EU salaries are calculated.

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.

News in Brief

  1. British PM to batter against EU wall on Brexit
  2. Hungary and Slovakia break EU line on Jerusalem
  3. Germany and France to overhaul EU competition law
  4. Estonia kicks out Danske Bank over money laundering scandal
  5. May and Juncker meet over Brexit on Wednesday
  6. EU promises to open up advisory groups
  7. EU agrees to limit CO2 emissions by trucks
  8. Juncker under attack in Hungary government ad

Opinion

Lost in Brexit chaos - abortion rights in Northern Ireland

Labour MP Diana Johnson has brought a private members bill to Westminster that proposes to decriminalise abortion in the whole of the UK, which means that, if successfully passed, current provisions for Northern Ireland will also be repealed.

May on whistle-stop EU tour to seek new backstop pledges

The British prime minister dramatically delayed a parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal at the last minute, as she faced defeat. Theresa May will now speed-tour EU capitals to try to secure further political guarantees.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  2. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  3. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  4. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  5. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  6. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat
  7. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  8. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us