BRUSSELS – The European Commission published on Wednesday a regulation amendment regarding the relocation of two of its agencies away from their current situation in London to new venues in the Netherlands and France, stating that the United Kingdom must cover the cost of the move.
The European Medicines Agency is to move to Amsterdam and the European Banking Authority to Paris after the remaining 27 European Union members agreed that, once the UK left the bloc, London must run with the expenses of relocations arising out of Brexit.
“The United Kingdom should fully cover the specific costs related to the withdrawal process, such as the relocation of the agencies based in the United Kingdom,” the EC pointed out in both EMA and EBA regulation amendments published on Wednesday.
The EC’s understanding is that both relocations are a direct consequence of Brexit, a unilateral decision taken by the UK.
However, the UK has yet to approve these initiatives, running parallel to the main Brexit talks, according to an EC statement.
“The Commission is acting swiftly in order to provide legal certainty and clarity, ensuring that both Agencies can continue to function smoothly and without disruption beyond March 2019,” the EC statement said.
In its proposal, the EC considers some of the relocation costs may have to be “pre-financed” by the EU budget, prior to a financial settlement.
In this respect, the Commission will assess possible additional funding, channeled through the EU budget, due to the costs related to the early termination of current EMA and EBA rental contracts in London and the relocation costs respectively in Amsterdam and Paris.
The total cost of this proposal is tied to the fact that the London agencies rentals were negotiated until 2039 with no escape clause, which in the case of the EBA alone, the largest of the two agencies, would be around 582 million euros ($690 million) in a worst-case scenario, according to information provided last August by the EC to the European Parliament and leaked to the press.
The EC expects its co-legislators (the European Parliament and European Council) to give priority to the handling of these legislative proposals.
The European Medicines Agency has a staff of 900 and the European Banking Authority has 169 employees.