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EU cities compete to host agencies post-Brexit

August 1, 2017

About two dozen European cities have applied to host two London-based EU agencies after they leave the UK capital due to Brexit. Two German cities are among those that entered the race.

Großbritannien Brexit Symbolbild
Image: picture-alliance/empics/Y. Mok

The European Council said in a statement Tuesday that 19 cities had entered the bid to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and eight had applied for the European Banking Authority (EBA).

The European Commission will assess the eligibility of all applicant cities in a first step, paying attention to six criteria including transport links, the prospects of organizing a swift move to the new address and schools for the children of employees. A decision on the new home of the two EU agencies will then be made during a secret vote to be held by EU Council of Ministers in November. Both the EBA and the EMA are pegged to be resettled soon afterward to their new cities.

Frankfurt Skyline
Frankfurt is already home to the European Central Bank and could therefore be a good fit for the EBAImage: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Rumpenhorst

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The EMA with an annual budget of 305 million euros ($360 million) is in charge of approving and monitoring the safety of drugs across Europe. The EBA meanwhile coordinates banking rules and regulations for the bloc.

Options in Germany

The central German city of Frankfurt applied to host both the EMA and EBA agencies. Being home to the European Central Bank and already hosting a number of financial institutions, Frankfurt could be a preferred candidate for the EBA.

Bonn skyline
Bonn could be the preferred new home of the EMA, hosting a number of international institutions alreadyImage: Imago/JOKER

Bonn, the former German capital with a series of federal German ministries and long list of existing international institutions including the United Nations and the International Paralympic Committee, also applied to host the EMA. It could be a preferred location also due to its proximity to other key EU cities, chiefly Brussels and Luxembourg.

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However, it is not possible for both Bonn and Frankfurt to win the race, as the rules of the competition rule out the prospect of both agencies ending up in the same country.

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Steep competition

The cities that succeed in hosting either of the two agencies will benefit economically in a number of ways, from welcoming highly qualified individuals as new residents to hosting specialized conferences attracting thousands of people annually.

Frankfurt faces some steep competition from cities like Luxembourg, Paris, Dublin, Vienna, Brussels and Warsaw for hosting the EBA, which employs nearly 160 staff. Bonn meanwhile has to compete against the likes of Amsterdam, Lille, Milan, Helsinki, Barcelona and Bratislava to welcome the 900 employees of the EMA.

Amsterdam even tried to appeal to the potential new residents by pointing out that they could still enjoy famed aspects of British life.

"We also have a very stylish queen, and enjoy fish and chips."

ss/se (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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