The 27 EU member states that will remain after Britain’s exit from the bloc discussed a possible process for relocating two London-based EU agencies during an EU Ministerial meeting on Tuesday.
The bloc is seeking new EU hosts for the European Medicines Agencies (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA), as the two agencies cannot remain in Britain after the country’s exit from the bloc.
The 27 countries “broadly welcomed” a proposal for criteria and a selection process for the relocations, said Helena Dalli, the minister for EU affairs of Malta, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
The criteria include: that the agencies can be up and running when Britain withdraws from the EU in March 2019; that the location is easily accessible with frequent flight connections; and that there are appropriate schooling and work opportunities for the children and spouses of EU staff.
She said that the final decision on the process is expected to be taken by EU leaders during a summit on Thursday and Friday.
“It’s their decision then – they will take into account what was said today and they will decide on that,” she said.
German State Minister Michael Roth said that differences still remained among member states on certain criteria for choosing the new locations.
He said that he hoped that leaders would be able to find a common position saying, “this should definitely not be the hardest decision that we have to take in terms of Brexit,” Roth said.
According to the proposal presented by European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, member states would have until July 31 to submit their applications to host the agencies.
The decision would be made through a series of votes by member states.
The proposal envisions taking a final decision on the relocations at a ministerial meeting in October.
The EMA has around 890 employees and with 36,000 visitors annually, it requires a daily peak hotel capacity of 350 rooms.
The EBA has a staff of about 200 people and its visitors booked 9,000 nights of hotel stays annually.