Three EU states quit race to host medicine agency after Brexit

Henrietta Brewer
November 20, 2017

The decision was made by the European Council of 27 EU ministers with Amsterdam and Milan battling it out for the final place, but with equal votes among members the decision was decided by a drawing of lots.

Amsterdam and Paris won the right to host two European Union agencies that must leave London because of Brexit after an extraordinary ministerial meeting in Brussels that left both results decided by drawing lots from a fishbowl.

The city of Amsterdam and the EMA will now begin to transition the agency to its new home ahead of its scheduled completion prior to the United Kingdom formally leaving the European Union in April 2019.

European Council president Donald Tusk said that "the real victor of today's vote is EU27", adding that the bloc was "organised and getting ready for Brexit".

A senior government source told The Times that Ireland would be competitive in tomorrow's voting but was likely to lose. Axed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said that Barcelona had been the "favourite" but that the "state had condemned it", blaming violence over the region's disputed independence vote. Slovak capital Bratislava is a contender even though an EMA survey of its staff found majority might quit if posted to the bloc's poor eastern regions. Luxembourg and the Czech Republic are not bidding for the EMA but want others' votes in their bids for the EBA.

Both are now based in London's Docklands business district but must move when Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019 because EU agencies are not allowed to be based outside of the union. The EBA is perhaps best known for its regular stress tests on the EU's financial sector in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Member states brought out all the stops to extol the merits of their candidate cities, producing glossy brochures and videos and offering a host of perks.

Italy was even forced to deny news reports that it would increase its military contingents to the Baltic countries as a bargaining chip to promote Milan's candidacy. In the event of a tie, the presidency will select one of the two tied offers from a ballot box.

Both votes are understood to have gone down to the wire, with lots being drawn for the the victor after both ended in a draw in the final round.

While "regional balance" had been among criteria that ministers were asked to observe in voting, so too was the ability to maintain the business continuity of agencies which already have about 1,000 employees between them in London.

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