While many EU members states lobby intensively, Croatia seems to hesitate.
Which countries are seriously interested in hosting the headquarters of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which has to move from London after Brexit? Yesterday was the final day for official candidacies to be submitted to the European Council. Nineteen countries have reportedly expressed their interest, and Croatia is one of them. The voting process on the new headquarters will take place in November, reports Jutarnji List on 1 August 2017.
In this pre-nomination period, some countries did an excellent job, while others have hardly done anything. It is not difficult to guess to which group Croatia belongs, although Health Minister Milan Kujundžić says that “the materials have been prepared and talks have been conducted with several European health ministers and ambassadors while lobbying efforts are being managed by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.”
The European Parliament representative for the EMA and Member of the European Parliament from Croatia Biljana Borzan says that, in the past months, there is a fierce competition among countries which want to host the agency. Delegations from interested countries visit other EU member states and try to win them over. Many delegations have visited the current EMA headquarters in order to demonstrate that 890 employees would relocate without problems if they wanted to. The Croatian Health Minister has not yet been to London, and most of the work has so far been done at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the City of Zagreb, which has proposed to host the EMA headquarters in the Sky Office building.
In lobbying for the EMA, some Western countries, such as the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark, have organised events in Brussels where they presented their advantages and offered benefits, such as affordable accommodation, schools for children, and language learning courses. Some of the countries have visited the EMA more than once, for example, Austria three times, and Denmark and France two times. Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Germany and Poland are countries which have not yet sent their delegations.
One of the criteria for hosting the EMA is to have good transport links with the main cities of the EU. Only in the past year, 36,000 experts came to the EMA for business, so traffic connections are critical. It is also required that the headquarters building should be of appropriate size, so Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands announced they would be ready to construct new buildings for the EMA offices. Some countries have also offered direct assistance to employees who would be willing to move.
In any case, it can be expected that lobbying efforts will be even more intensified in the coming months until the final decision is made in November. The process will involve up to three rounds of voting.
Translated from Jutarnji List.