EU 27 to decide future of London-based agencies

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EU leaders have agreed that the post-Brexit locations of key bank and medical agencies currently based in London would be decided by November, EU president Donald Tusk said, and Luxembourg is making a bid for one of them.

“Agreed. EU27 will decide by vote in November on relocation of EU agencies currently in UK. Confirms EU27 unity. Reduces Brexit uncertainty,” Tusk tweeted after a summit meeting in Brussels.

The post-Brexit future of the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is important in itself, given their key regulatory role.

But it is also a matter of money and prestige, with most of the remaining 27 EU member states vying to provide their new home.

So far the EMA candidate cities are Amsterdam, Copenhagen, the northern French city of Lille, Stockholm and Barcelona.

The German financial hub of Frankfurt is the frontrunner to host the EBA, However Luxembourg has also made a bid, along with Paris and Prague.

Vienna, Dublin and Warsaw have also put themselves forward as candidates for both agencies.

The EMA, which has been based in London since 1995, employs nearly 900 people and accounted for nearly 30,000 nights of hotel stays by visitors in 2015, according to EU figures.

The EBA, set up in 2011, employs 190 people and accounts for 9,000 hotel nights a year.

How the choice is made is complicated.

Firstly, candidate cities must formally put themselves forward by July 31, according to a graphic accompanying Tusk’s tweet.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will then evaluate the bids in September, considering criteria such as accessibility for current employees, work opportunities for their spouses and schools for their children.

It will also look at whether a country already hosts other EU agencies to ensure they are not monopolised.

The EU 27 will then hold a political discussion on the offers in October before a secret vote in November.

Each country will have six voting points — three for its first preference, two points for the second and one for the third.

While they are allowed to vote for themselves they are also expected to take the commission’s assessments into account.

If any one gets three points from 14 or more members then it automatically wins — otherwise there is a second round for the top three candidate cities but with each country only getting one vote each.

Should there still be no clear winner, there will be a third and final round between the two final candidates.