EU declines to rank rival bids for agencies leaving UK post-Brexit

Amsterdam was voted on of the favourite possible destinations for the EMA among its existing staff members. [Shutterstock]

The European Commission has shied away from ranking which cities should host Europe’s drugs regulator and banking authority after Brexit, saying the decision is up to the 27 member states that will remain.

The EU executive said its assessment, published on Saturday (30 September), was wholly based on the information provided by governments in their bidding war to host the two agencies, which will be forced to relocate from Britain when it leaves the bloc.

“It (the assessment) respects the member states’ decision that the criteria should be unweighted and does not provide a ranking or shortlist of any kind,” the Commission said in a statement.

Nineteen member states have bid to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and eight want the European Banking Authority (EBA).

The final say on where to move the agencies rests with EU leaders who will try to reach a deal at their next summit in three weeks’ time, with a final decisions a month later.

Relocation of UK agencies to be decided by Eurovision-style vote

The post-Brexit relocation of the two London-based European agencies will be decided by a points-based vote which resembles the Eurovision song contest, EURACTIV has learned ahead of a summit tomorrow (22 June) where EU leaders will agree the criteria and the voting rules.

Candidate cities will be appraised based on their ability to have an office ready in time, their accessibility, the quality of schools, healthcare and jobs for the families of staff, and how disruptive the move would be.

In their eagerness to host the agencies, some governments have offered tax breaks or rent-free headquarters for the EU institutions – a big break for the bloc’s budget.

However, the EU’s need to ensure business continuity could clash with another EU ambition – spreading the bloc’s agencies more evenly across Europe and giving newer, eastern member states a chance to catch up.

Croatia minister on EMA: ‘Moral’ obligation to favour a country without EU agency

In assessing the relocation of the EU drugs agency EMA, old member states have a “moral and political obligation” to give an advantage to those candidate countries that do not currently host another EU agency, Croatia’s health minister told EURACTIV.com.

The EMA last week warned that it could lose more than 70% of its staff, making it unable to function, if politicians pick an unpopular base for the London-based agency once Britain leaves the EU.

Amsterdam, Barcelona or Vienna were the top three choices of staff, according to a survey of around 900 of its workers. All of those cities already host one or more EU agencies.

The EMA has said it would take at least three years to recover fully from the disruption to its operations. It sees retaining staff as key to maintaining essential services such as new drug approval and monitoring side effects.