EU nations battle it out over EU agencies' relocation

Which country will win the two European agencies planning on relocating from Britain once Brexit is complete? The agencies are relocating over 1,000 employees from their current London base.

Where will EU agencies go after Brexit?
Battle has been joined among more than a dozen EU nations hoping to become the new home of two influential European agencies that will have to move from their London base once Brexit is complete.

Competition for more than 1,000 workers and their families

Relocation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which regulates the safety of drugs available to 500 million Europeans, and the European Banking Authority (EBA), will involve moving more than 1,000 employees and members of their families."There will be fierce competition to attract the agencies' highly skilled employees, their families and the business that comes with them. This includes about 40,000 hotel stays for visitors each year," according to the BBC.The European Commission set a deadline for submission of bids to host each agency at midnight BST on Monday and foreign ministers from all 27 remaining EU members will meet in late November for a round of voting that will decide on the winners.With about 900 employees currently based in Canary Wharf in London's Docklands, the EMA is regarded as the biggest prize in the competition and several nations, including the Irish Republic (Dublin), Germany (Bonn) and France (Paris), produced glossy brochures and videos ahead of the competition deadline promoting their bids. The Irish, Dutch and Danes also staged promotional events in Brussels in an attempt to lobby for their causes.Other nations bidding for the EMA include Malta, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Portugal, Finland, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. European Commission members have recently expressed a desire to see at least one of the agencies located in one of the newer EU nations in Central and Eastern Europe.Dublin, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Paris and Prague are among the cities bidding to host the EBA, which is also based in Canary Wharf and has 160 employees.

Concern is growing for British pharmaceutical companies

The European Commission is demanding that both agencies should be up and running by the time the UK leaves the bloc in March 2019 but British pharmaceutical companies are concerned about the tightness of the deadline even though Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Business Secretary Greg Clark stated in July that British pharmaceutical companies would be able to continue to work closely with the EMA after Brexit, although they did not explain how this would be achieved.Emma Walmsley, chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which employs 17,000 in the UK, said last week that the country's pharmaceutical industry needed at least two years' transition to cope with the impact of Brexit.
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"Our main focus is to make sure that we are given a sufficiently long transition period, that is really the thing that matters in our sector," she said. "The absolute minimum for us – minimum – is two years."Ms Walmsley said that, despite the EMA's departure from London, UK companies wanted to remain within the European regulatory system as far as possible. "We would like it to be as much mutual recognition as possible to minimise any duplication," she added.Although the impact of Brexit on GSK's overall business is likely to be limited as Britain accounts for only four per cent of sales, the country's pharmaceutical trade association has warned that being outside the EU could undermine future investment, research and jobs.
Read David Sapsted's article on Establishing Right to Remain – which discusses the uncertainty over immigration which the UK faces following Brexit – in the Summer 2017 issue of Relocate Magazine.
For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.

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