Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

U.K. Push to Keep EU Banking, Drug Regulators in London Rejected

  • Britain to have ‘no say’ in location of agencies, EU says
  • Relocation of EBA, EMA is not part of Brexit negotiations

The European Union dismissed an effort by the U.K. to keep the bloc’s banking and drugs regulators in London after Brexit, declaring Britain will have “no say” in the agencies’ new locations.

“The decision to relocate the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority is a decision for the 27 member states to take,” Margaritis Schinas, spokesman for the European Commission, the EU executive, told reporters on Wednesday in Brussels. “It is not part of the Brexit negotiations.”

Cities across remaining EU countries already are jockeying to house the two agencies after Britain leaves, both for the prestige of hosting an influential EU body and the benefits of having hundreds of European experts in their markets. Together, the EMA and the EBA employ more than 1,000 staff.

The U.K. government’s Brexit department earlier this week said Prime Minister Theresa May will push to keep the regulators in London. “No decisions have been taken about the location of the European Banking Authority or the European Medicines Agency -- these will be subject to the exit negotiations,” a Brexit department spokesman told the Financial Times.

The European Commission spokesman refuted that on Wednesday, saying the most that will be part of the negotiations will be a smooth transfer of their functions and staff to new locations within the EU.

The U.K. “will have no say in the location of EU agencies,” Schinas said.

The EBA, established in 2011 in the wake of the banking crisis, is responsible for monitoring how national regulators implement the EU’s financial rules. France, the Netherlands, Austria and Luxembourg are among the nations interested in hosting the authority, which has about 160 employees.

Based in London since its creation two decades ago, the EMA tests and licenses medications that pharmaceutical companies want to sell in the EU. Employing about 900 officials and scientists, it’s in the sights of countries including Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Schinas also said that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s view is that the “real political negotiations” on Brexit won’t begin until after the U.K. snap election that’s been called for June 8.

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