Thursday, 22 June 2017
EU countries compete to host London-based agencies after Brexit
European leaders are set to tussle over the future of EU agencies located in London in the first test of the bloc’s post-Brexit unity. At a summit in Brussels on Thursday the EU’s 27 leaders – minus Theresa May – are expected to take the next crucial step in moving two EU agencies out of the British capital. The EU is insisting the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority, both located in Canary Wharf, find new homes after Brexit.
With the Brexit clock ticking, the stage is set for a sharp-elbowed beauty contest, with some eastern European countries insisting they should be first in line for London’s lost prizes. The agencies are not only seen as prestigious, but the regular flow of visitors is a reliable boost for hotels and local businesses. Every year about 36,000 scientists and regulators visit the medicines agency, which was set up in 1995 to monitor and supervise medicines across the EU.
At least 21 countries are thought to have made a bid for the medicines agency, with a smaller number throwing their hat into the ring to host the banking authority, which started its financial supervision work in 2011 after the crash. Ministers and diplomats have been touting the attractions of their cities at meetings in Brussels. Smart websites have been launched to extol transport links, scientific prowess and local schools.
A decision on location is expected in October, but an early hint of tension came on Tuesday when European affairs ministers failed to agree on a voting system to select the new host cities.
EU countries have split over what is described in Brussels as “Eurovision song contest rules” – an elaborate three-round voting mechanism to choose the host cities, which may be more complex than picking a catchy tune in the kitschy singing competition.
Source: The Guardian