The European Commission wants to find a new seat for London-based EU agencies as soon as possible. The United Kingdom will have no say in the process.
On Wednesday (19 April), the executive put an end to Britain’s hopes of playing a role in deciding the new destination of the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The EBA and the EMA are two of the most powerful EU regulatory bodies.
According to the Financial Times, the British government was even ready to fight to keep them on UK soil as part of the upcoming exit negotiations.
The newspaper reported that the UK’s Brexit minister, David Davis, aimed to keep both EU bodies, raising eyebrows across the Channel.
A UK spokesman said that the location of the agencies would be “subject to the exit negotiations”.
“The agencies must be based on the territory of the EU,” Schinas replied on Wednesday.
“It is not part of the Brexit negotiations but a consequence of Brexit,” he added.
He reiterated that the decision will be taken by the remaining 27 member states and that the UK will have no say in the process.
The Commission spokesman called on the national governments to take a “quick” decision on the new host country of the two agencies to avoid any disruption and to ensure that they function “smoothly” after the UK leaves the block in March 2019.
However, officials did not confirm whether the parallel talks among the 27 members would take place during the first part of the negotiations with the UK. London and Brussels expect to materialise the divorce during the first part of the talks by autumn.
Only then both sides will negotiate the new association agreement.
In this context, the “duty” for the UK will be to facilitate the transfer of the agencies by “helping to ease” the financial costs of moving the personnel to another EU city.
The guidelines unveiled by European Council President Donald Tusk already stated that the future location of the UK-based agencies would be a matter for the remaining 27 member states. But they were vague in regards to what role the UK would play to support the transition.
“Arrangements should be found to facilitate their transfer,” the guidelines said.
Barcelona, Milan, Dublin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm are competing to attract the EMA’s 890 staff members to their territory.
Barcelona came second to London when the agency was set up in 1995.
Meanwhile, some of the largest financial hubs in the continent, including Frankfurt and Paris, are fighting to conquer the EBA.
But it is a “possibility” that the Commission would propose getting rid of the banking authority as the UK will no longer be an EU member, officials explained.
The EBA was set up in 2011 as a response to the UK’s concerns about the creation of the Single Supervisory Mechanism. London feared that the European Central Bank’s new supervisory framework would de facto split the banking regulation in the single market between eurozone and non-eurozone members.
The Commission clarified on Wednesday that the negotiations will start only after the general elections are held in the UK on 8 June.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke on the phone with British Prime Minister Theresa May, after she surprised many by calling for snap elections on Tuesday.
Officials already expected the negotiations to begin in early June, once the national governments endorse the Commission’s negotiation mandate on 22 May.