Brexit: Race to host EU agencies relocated from London

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Canary Wharf skyline, Feb 2016Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The agencies are currently based in London's Canary Wharf

EU countries have until midnight to submit bids to provide a new home for two agencies that will be relocated from the UK after Brexit.

The European Banking Authority (EBA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA), based in Canary Wharf in London, employ just over 1,000 staff between them.

The banking and medicines agencies are seen as the first spoils of Brexit by the 27 remaining members of the EU.

About 20 countries are expected to enter the bidding process.

Glossy brochures

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.

Countries have printed glossy brochures, posted promotional videos online and hired lobbying firms.

Frankfurt - location of the European Central Bank and a major financial centre - is seen as favourite to get the EBA. But Paris is also keen to win that contest.

And the Irish government is marketing Dublin as a location, with a brochure that highlights the city's business culture as well as "beaches and mountains on its doorstep".

Image caption,
The Wicklow Mountains near Dublin: Part of the Irish package in the bidding

The contest has pitched larger countries against smaller ones from across the EU.

Each country can bid to host one or both agencies. But it can only make one bid per agency.

The European Commission will assess the entries based on the quality of office space, job opportunities for spouses, good "European-oriented" schooling and transport links.

Accessibility and efficient infrastructure are the top two agreed criteria.

Amid the rivalry to host the EMA, the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark have hosted events in Brussels to promote their bids, the Politico news website reports. The number of states vying for the EMA is reckoned to be 21.

The 27 remaining EU countries are determined that the UK will pay the relocation bill, as Brexit was a UK decision.

What do the agencies do?


  • Monitors the safety and quality of medicines EU-wide and issues scientific advice
  • Provides a single route for evaluating medicines, avoiding duplication by member states
  • Helps innovation by collaborating with medicine manufacturers


  • Works to harmonise European banking rules and supervisory practices
  • Assesses risks and vulnerabilities in the EU banking sector
  • Mediates in cross-border disputes between financial authorities

European ministers will use a complicated voting system to choose the winners in November. EU leaders agreed on the procedure in June, and some observers have already likened it to the Eurovision Song Contest.

Before that vote, the European Commission will assess the competing bids and make its recommendations.

In November each of the EU foreign ministers will vote in order of preference - three points for the preferred bid, two points for the second-favourite and one point for the third.

If no single country obtains 14 first-preference votes the voting will go to a second round. Each country in that round will have just one vote to cast - for its favourite.

The EU is keen to locate more of its agencies in the newer member states of Central and Eastern Europe.