1. News
July 31, 2017

The first spoils of Brexit: these are the countries looking to host London’s EU agencies in 2019

The deadline closes tonight for European Union (EU) countries bidding to host two prized EU agencies after Brexit.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA) currently reside in Canary Wharf, London but will be relocated once the UK leaves the union in March 2019.

Countries across the bloc are bidding for the chance to host the agencies, which will be decided by the European Council in November.

What do the EU agencies do?

The EBA is part of the European Systems of Financial Supervision. It keeps EU financial institutions on the straight and narrow by drafting technical standards and guidelines. As well, it oversees how EU countries comply with financial regulations and implements tasks such as bank stress tests to test the strength of banks in the bloc.

The EMA, on the other hand, regulates human and animal health medicines across the EU, such as assessing if a drug is fit to be placed on the market.

Why is it a big dealing that they’re leaving London?

In terms of the EBA, it will deliver another blow to the UK’s financial sector. Having the financial supervisor close by is pretty handy and if it moves to another EU country, it means other banks might move with it.

The loss of the EMA from London will mean that getting new drugs approved and ready for market is going to become a longer, more painstaking process for UK drugmakers.  This has led to concerns that it will diminish the incentive to carry out research in the UK and will delay patient access to new medicines.

Who will host the EU agencies instead of the UK?

There are around 20 countries bidding to host the EU agencies but according to an EU document of requirements seen by Politico, it is likely that the richer countries in Europe, such as Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, France, and Germany, will host the agencies next.

Having the “technical requirements” to host the agency is a crucial factor, such as quality of office space and being able to have the IT system up and running on the first day in the new location.

Other infrastructure requirements will be taken into account. The EMA and EBA host thousands of visitors every year, so proximity to hotels and airports will be necessary in order for the agencies to run smoothly in their new host countries.

The significant expenses incurred for hotel stays and conferences is one of the reasons countries are so keen to be the new hosts. In 2015, the EMA had 36,000 visitors and booked 30,000 hotel nights.

Provisions for the families of agency staff, such as job opportunities and educational offering, will also be factored in.

It’s all about the politics

The EU has said it is keen to locate some of its agencies in newer member states such as Central and Eastern Europe, which is why countries including Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia are bidding for the EU agencies.

However, the BBC reports that the refusal by some of these countries to comply with EU asylum policy, mainly refusing to take in refugees from Italy and Greece, could stand against them.