EU watchdog agencies to relocate to Paris and Amsterdam

21 Nov 17

Paris and Amsterdam will host the EU’s medical and banking watchdogs after ministers picked names from a large bowl to decide where the organisations and 1,000 staff should move after Brexit.

London will lose the European Banking Authority (EBA) to Paris and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to Amsterdam it was decided on Monday after three rounds of voting in the European Parliament failed to deliver clear winners.

The EBA was set up following the financial crisis and enforces EU banking regulations. It can overrule national bank regulators if they are found to breach European rules.

The EMA coordinates evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of treatments by national agencies before they can be used across the EU.

European Council president Donald Tusk said “the real winner of [the] vote is EU27”, and adding that the bloc was “getting ready for Brexit”.

The EU’s 27 European affairs ministers took less than three hours to decide who would host the EMA, which employs 900 people in Canary Wharf in London. The decision on the banking authority, which employs 150, was made in just over an hour.

The European Council received 27 proposals from member states to host the EU agencies after Brexit.

Amsterdam beat 18 European cities, including Copenhagen and Bratislava, while eight cities were in the running to be the new home to the EBA, including Brussels and Dublin.

Vienna also put in a generous bid for the EBA with a financial package including a 25-year rent-free deal, but was beaten by Paris, which offered a €1.5m one-off payment into the EBA coffers.

Speaking before the vote, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, took on UK’s prime minister Theresa May’s line and said: “Brexit means Brexit”.

During a Brussels conference hosted by the Centre for European Reform, he said: “The same people who argue for setting the UK free also argue that the UK should remain in some EU agencies.

“But freedom implies responsibility for building new UK administrative capacity.”

He added that the 27 EU states would “continue to deepen the work of those agencies, together” and would share running costs.

Earlier this year, UK Brexit secretary David Davis said the agencies would be able to stay in Britain after Brexit.

The EU outlined six criteria to judge the bids, including cities’ ability to get the agency up and running on time, transport accessibility, school places and job opportunities for spouses.

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