Wed, Nov 22, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Amsterdam and Paris win rights to host EU units


France and the Netherlands won the contests to host two London-based EU agencies in the first concrete political victories in the battle for Brexit spoils.

The EU’s banking authority is to move to Paris and the medicine regulator is to relocate to Amsterdam by the time Britain departs from the 28-nation bloc in March 2019.

The two cities on Monday emerged victorious against a slew of other candidates after a series of secret ballots by EU governments in Brussels. In each case, a drawing of lots after a tie in the third and last round was needed to reach a final result.

“It was a tight competition,” Estonian Deputy Minister for European Affairs Matti Maasikas told reporters after the voting by the bloc’s general-affairs ministers. “It fell to me to draw the lot.”

Estonia holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

The decisions cap months of lobbying over applications by 19 cities ranging from Stockholm to Bucharest that sought to lure the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and of eight offers — including by Dublin, Frankfurt and Vienna — for the European Banking Authority (EBA).

The EMA, which evaluates applications for drugs and oversees the safety of medicines, employs about 900 people and attracts 36,000 visitors a year to London from government, science and industry.

The EBA works to align banking rules in the EU and has fewer than 200 employees.

Amsterdam lured the EMA by promising to build a new office in the Zuidas area of the city, already home to companies such as paint maker Akzo Nobel NV and bank ABN Amro Group NV.

French Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire and his deputy, Benjamin Griveaux, toured European capitals to lobby for Paris’ bid, using French President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to bolster the domestic economy as a selling point.

While highly political, the process for picking the new homes of the two agencies was given a veneer of objectivity through criteria that the EU fixed for the applications.

These included accessibility, availability of schools and healthcare for staff families, and an assurance of operational readiness when Brexit happens.

Another criterion stressed “geographical spread,” which touched on the highly sensitive question of balance among the northern, southern, eastern and western parts of Europe when it comes to the location of EU agencies.

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