Political alliances could thwart Danish bid to take over EU agency

Political alliances could thwart Danish bid to take over EU agency
The current EMA headquarters in Canary Wharf, London. Photo: Frank Augstein/AP/Ritzau
Denmark’s bid for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to be moved from London to Copenhagen following Brexit could be challenged by alliances between other bidding countries.

The agency, which approves medicines for use within the EU, is currently based in London but must be relocated following the UK’s decision to leave the union.

EU countries will vote Monday on the new location of the EMA as well as the European Banking Authority (EBA).

“We are well-placed. But that is because we fulfil the criteria that have been shown as important for the EMA to be functional,” the Confederation of Danish Industry’s health policies director Tine Roed said.

18 other countries, including the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Poland, have bid for the medicines agency.

Roed said that Denmark fulfilled all the requirements of the agency.

“Denmark has many advantages in relation to the objective criteria. But it is always difficult to predict political processes,” she said.

Criteria for the award of the agency include a building already available in which to locate it and access to schools and welfare services.

The government has proposed Copenhagen Towers in Ørestad, and area of the Amager islan neighbourhood of greater Copenhagen, to house the agency and its 900 employees.

EMA employees have also been consulted over the relocation, and reacted positively to the notion of living and working in Copenhagen.

This is likely to affect the outcome of the decision, said Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen researcher in EU health politics at the University of Copenhagen.

“Denmark is clearly in the leading pack with regard to the stated criteria. But it is not certain that will be enough,” Martinsen said.

“What is crucial is the alliances that are probably currently being made. Because this is about getting the most votes,” she added.

Countries that have bid for both the EMA and EBA agencies are likely to make deals with each other, the professor said.

“But with regard to the EMA it is difficult [to predict] because so many countries have bid. You can’t necessarily rely on countries that are normal allies,” she said, citing that, for example, Sweden’s bid rules out a Nordic alliance.

Denmark’s government has offered to pay 20 years’ worth of rent, real estate taxes, and utilities to secure the agency.

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