Amsterdam, Paris get luck of draw in EU agencies’ relocation

London loses two more EU agencies to the Continent, as the European Medicines Agency - with its workforce of 890 - and the European Banking Authority plan to depart the UK.

EU agencies moving to Paris and Amsterdam; image of Dutch, UK, French and EU flag
The future destinations of two major EU regulatory authorities, which are being forced to relocate from London because of Brexit, were eventually decided in Brussels by pulling the winning cities' names out of a bowl.After three rounds of voting in Brussels on Monday evening, Amsterdam and Milan were tied in the battle to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA), whose 890 workforce in London Canary Wharf is responsible for approving and monitoring the safety of drugs across Europe.After the two names were placed in a bowl, Estonian deputy EU affairs minister Matti Maasikas pulled out Amsterdam first - a result that came as a relief of staff, 81 per cent of whom had expressed a willingness to move to Holland in a poll the 19 cities vying to host the EMA.One reason Amsterdam was believed to be the most popular destination was because of its closeness to London and the possibility of staff commuting during the week.Similarly, there was joy among the 189 staff at the European Banking Authority (EBA) to relocate the regulatory authority to Paris, which had won out after Mr Maasikas had placed its name and Dublin's in the bowl.The two losing cities were predictably unhappy over the final decisions after the tied votes. Paolo Gentiloni, the Italian prime minister, tweeted: "A solid candidate defeated by a drawing of lots. What a mockery."  Simon Coveney, Ireland's foreign affairs minister, said he was "absolutely gutted".
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European officials also expressed surprise at the results. Frankfurt, already home to the European Central Bank and the favoured venue of several banks looking to establish new European hubs because of Brexit, had been favourite to attract the EBA, while the European Commission had made it clear it would like to see one of the agencies relocated to one of the newer EU members in central and eastern Europe.But after some behind-the-scenes horse trading among voting delegates from the remaining 27 EU nations, the number of cities bidding for either or both bodies was reduced from the initial 27 to just four and, after the luck of the draw, to the two winners.French President Emmanuel Macron promptly applauded the success of Paris. "Paris will welcome the European Banking Authority! It is recognition of the attractiveness and the European commitment to France. Happy and proud for our country," he tweeted.Now, the EMA and EBA will have to organise the movement of staff, their families, offices, equipment, and supply and communications chains by the end of March 2019.John Brennan, secretary general of EuropaBio, which represents Europe’s biotech sector, said the group was happy to see Amsterdam selected. “Now that we have more clarity, it is vital that the relocation of the EMA will be carried out in such a way as to minimise as much as possible any disruptions that could negatively affect access to medicines for patients,” he said.UK pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline said the decision to move the EMA to Amsterdam would help "reduce uncertainty" and stressed the need for an agreement of a transition period in the Brexit negotiations."We must now get the best co-operation we can in place between the UK and the EU on future regulation to ensure patients continue to access safe, effective and high quality medicines," said Phil Thomson, president of global affairs at GSK. "Agreement to a well-planned transition period is critical to this and will help protect public health."A government spokesman in London said the UK would continue to work with both relocated agencies. "As part of our new deep and special partnership, we want to ensure close collaboration on major science, research and technology initiatives continues. This, of course, includes with the EMA. Our commitment to ensuring patients' safe and timely access to medicines remains unchanged," he said."We are also keen to build a new positive relationship with the European Banking Authority. London is a global financial hub, and we are determined to maintain the sound regulatory framework and global standards that underpin the City's leading position."For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  

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