A decision on the future location of two key European agencies will be made on Monday through a complex voting process.
London is losing the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) because of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
Nineteen cities are bidding for the EMA, while eight want to host the EBA.
More than 1,000 people work for the two agencies in London.
Ministers from the 27 EU countries remaining in the bloc after the UK departs in 2019 will take part in the secret ballot.
- Frankfurt is winning the battle for Brexit spoils
- Ministers urge post-Brexit EU drug regulation
The cities bidding for the EMA are: Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Bonn, Bratislava, Brussels, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Helsinki, Lille, Milan, Porto, Sofia, Stockholm, Valletta, Vienna, Warsaw and Zagreb.
Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris, Prague, Luxembourg City, Vienna and Warsaw are vying for the EBA.
No country is allowed to host both agencies.
The EMA is the more alluring of the two bodies, as it promises to make its new host into a hub for Europe’s medical industry.
UK betting company Ladbrokes makes Milan the favourite to win the medicines agency, followed by Bratislava and Amsterdam. It has Frankfurt – which produced a glossy video – as the frontrunner for the banking authority, followed by Vienna and Dublin.
However, diplomats say the outcome will be very difficult to predict. “Nobody really knows what is going to happen – they will be locked there for hours,” one said.
A complicating factor could be the reluctance of many EMA staff to move to some of the 19 cities in the running, the agency has warned. Replacing them would delay drug approvals and patient safety checks.
A first ballot, due to start at about 1500 GMT, will see ministers rank their top three choices.
Unless a majority makes the same first choice, a second vote among the best performing cities will follow, then a third-round runoff. If the voting is still tied, the Estonian meeting chairman will then draw lots.
The city that wins the EMA must then drop out of the running for the banking authority.
Slovakia has been campaigning hard to make the case for relocating the EMA to Bratislava. If it fails, diplomats say Slovakia may seek to cushion the blow by seeking support for its finance minister becoming chair of the Eurogroup, which runs policy for the eurozone.
What is the EMA?
- The European Medicines Agency evaluates and supervises medicines for both human and animal use
- It helps national authorities authorise the sale of drugs across the EU’s single market of some 500 million people
- It has been based at Canary Wharf in east London since 1995 and has about 900 staff
What is the EBA?
- The European Banking Authority guarantees financial stability in Europe, including the integrity of the EU’s banking sector
- Its 170-strong workforce is tasked with harmonising banking rules across the EU
- Created in 2011, it is best known for its banking “stress tests” designed to test how well banks can withstand a possible repeat of the 2008 financial crisis
- Its staff carried out 700 missions in member states last year, meaning its new host must have good air links
Source: BBC News