One of the many implications of Brexit is that, before the UK leaves the union, the headquarters of EU regulatory bodies that are currently based in Britain will have to relocate to a remaining country. Organisation like the European Banking Authority (EBA), previously headquartered in Canary Wharf, have been the focus of bids from across Europe, with local governments keen to attract the growth and prestige that accompany housing such important institutions. At the end of 2017, Paris won that bid, following a General Affairs Council vote in Brussels by the 27 members states that will, come 2019, make up the EU.
This was a solid victory for France and especially President Macron, who has made no secret of his wish to redirect the migrating institutions to French soil. He took to twitter after the win to express his happiness and pride at the Parisian victory, which had by no means been assured. When the outcome of the Brexit vote was announced, Frankfurt was originally deemed the likely destination. But although the German Banking powerhouse beat 5 other European cities to make it to the second round, it was actually Dublin that advanced to the third round head-to-head with Paris, losing in a lots draw after a 13-all split vote.
The EBA seemed satisfied with the result, seemingly confident that the French authorities will make the transition for the EU agency and its 159 employees a smooth one. In a statement following the decision, the EBA also welcomed the reassurance to “current and future staff over the new location” and “the end to this period of uncertainty” over where the EBA would reside. This brings Paris one step closer to becoming the Financial centre of the EU, a goal which seems within reach as it will now be the home of the two EU authorities responsible for setting banking standards, as well as the European Securities and Markets Authority, the financial trading regulator.
The General Affairs Council also decided the fate of the European Medicines Agency, which is set to relocate to Amsterdam, after beating Milan in the third round by luck of the draw, following a 13-13 tie vote. There has been a mixed reception to the decision, with some distress over the method of final decision making. One Twitter user, @Lach_Krz, argued Amsterdam was “not a bad choice, but decision-making has to be improved in future for such key matters”.
However the decision was made, the EMA welcomed the outcome, with Executive Director Guido Rasi echoing the EBA and saying at a Press conference on Tuesday: “For the past one and a half years we have been living in uncertainty.” The British Medical research community has been quick to voice its displeasure at this side-effect of Brexit, with some questioning the future of employment prospects in a city that is no longer the regulatory centre of their industry. The EU agency currently provides around 900 jobs, and around 80% of its staff had indicated it would move to the Dutch capital.
Both EU Agencies are now in the process of organising their relocations, and as of yet are on track to start operations in their new respective homes by March 2019.