Members states line up to host British based EU agency

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The Swedish government on Thursday launched a campaign to become the new host of the London-based European drugs agency after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and compete with offers from other EU members including Spain, France and Poland.

The tussle over the future location of nearly 900-strong European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to form part of complex political horse-trading around Brexit. Italy, Denmark and Ireland have also put themselves forward as hosts.

“With one of Europe’s top national medicines agencies, an excellent climate for research and life science as well as good conditions for an efficient relocation, Sweden is a good future home for the EMA,” Health Care Minister Gabriel Wikstrom said in a statement.

Having EMA headquartered in or near Stockholm would boost its drugs and life science sector, the government said. Sweden took a hit when AstraZeneca moved its headquarters to Britain but still has a cluster of medtech firms and the health sector has a vibrant start-up scene.

It already hosts the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), another argument for placing EMA in the country, the government said.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has previously expressed interest in EMA, but Thursday’s launch of an active campaign is the first formal step and includes a secretariat tasked with planning and organizing Sweden’s candidacy.

European Banking Authority

The European Banking Authority (EBA) is a regulatory agency of the European Union still headquartered in London, United Kingdom. Its activities include conducting stress tests on European banks to increase transparency in the European financial system and identifying weaknesses in banks’ capital structures.

The EBA was established on 1 January 2011, upon which date it inherited all of the tasks and responsibilities of the Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS).

The EBA has the power to overrule national regulators if they fail to properly regulate their banks. The EBA is able to prevent regulatory arbitrage and should allow banks to compete fairly throughout the EU. The EBA will prevent a race to the bottom because banks established in jurisdictions with less regulation will no longer be at a competitive advantage compared to banks based in jurisdictions with more regulations as all banks will henceforth have to comply with the higher pan European standard.

The main task of the EBA is to contribute, through the adoption of binding Technical Standards (BTS) and Guidelines, to the creation of the European Single Rulebook in banking. The Single Rulebook aims at providing a single set of harmonised prudential rules for financial institutions throughout the EU, helping create a level playing field and providing high protection to depositors, investors and consumers.

The Authority also plays an important role in promoting convergence of supervisory practices to ensure a harmonised application of prudential rules. Finally, the EBA is mandated to assess risks and vulnerabilities in the EU banking sector through, in particular, regular risk assessment reports and pan-European stress tests.

Other tasks set out in the EBA’s mandate include:

  • investigating alleged incorrect or insufficient application of EU law by national authorities
  • taking decisions directed at individual competent authorities or financial institutions in emergency situations
  • mediating to resolve disagreements between competent authorities in cross-border situations
  • acting as an independent advisory body to the European Parliament, the Council or the Commission.
  • taking a leading role in promoting transparency, simplicity and fairness in the market for consumer financial products or services across the internal market.

To perform these tasks, the EBA can produce a number of regulatory and non regulatory documents including binding Technical Standards, Guidelines, Recommendations, Opinions and ad-hoc or regular reports. The Binding Technical Standards are legal acts which specify particular aspects of an EU legislative text (Directive or Regulation) and aim at ensuring consistent harmonisation in specific areas. The EBA develops draft BTS which are finally endorsed and adopted by the European Commission. Contrary to other documents such as Guidelines or Recommendations, the BTS are legally binding and directly applicable in all Member States.

The new location of the EBA is yet to be determined. The Netherlands and Germany are currently the most likely candidates. Luxembourg and France have also expressed interest in the past to become EBA’s new home after the UK leaves the Union.