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September 16, 2021

Bye Bye, EMA? Bratislava and Milan, favourites for relocation

Assessment of Romania’s bid has been challenged


The cities of Bratislava and Milan are favourites in the race to host the European Medicine Agency (EMA), following United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, several European officials have stated for The Financial Times.

Slovakia and Italy have filed the best bids, but the Netherlands (Amsterdam) and Denmark (Copenhagen) are seen as important competitors.

The European officials quoted by Financial Times see the Slovak bid as being the strongest from Central and Eastern Europe, a poorly-represented region in what concerns EU agencies.

Slovakia, member of the Euro Area, is seen in Brussels as the bastion of pro-European feeling in a region that is increasingly hostile to EU integration. European experts warn of a possible conflict unless at least one agency is based in one of the ten Central and Eastern European countries that joined the EU starting in 2004.

Diplomatic sources also pointed out that Italy is willing to make several concessions to host the European Medicine Agency in Milan, including the deployment of more troops for new NATO units in the Baltic States.

Italy benefits from the problems Spain has – candidate city Barcelona being affected by the Catalan crisis – and from the fact that Northern Europe is split by several competing bids.

Bucharest and 18 other European cities – including Vienna (Austria), Brussels (Belgium), Sofia (Bulgaria), Bonn (Germany), Milan (Italy), Lille (France) and Barcelona (Spain) – have filed bids to host the EMA headquarters.

The European Commission has assessed the bids, without ranking the candidate cities based on the criteria met. The final decision on the hosting of the EMA is expected on November 20 and will be adopted via secret ballot.

Currently based in London, the European Medicine Agency is perceived as one of the most important specialised agencies of the EU, out of more than 40 such agencies. The EMA has 900 employees and is visited each year by approximately 35,000 national regulatory authorities and scientists, due to its essential role in approving new pharmaceutical drugs on the European market.


Romanian MEPs react to EMA relocation: We’ve challenged the assessment of the bid


Romanian MEP Maria Grapini stated for MEDIAFAX that the assessment of Romania’s bid for EMA relocation was challenged after the European Commission made technical assessment errors.

Maria Grapini says that, in her opinion, the vote will be political and will not consider the quality of the bids filed, our country having a “good” bid in this case.

“On Tuesday morning, we once again met ambassador Luminita Odobescu, because we filed a challenge to the assessment of the bid. They made technical assessment errors. The problem is that I’m very certain the quality of the project will be disregarded, because we really have some strong points. (…) The problem is that this voting system – 3,2,1 – (is) a Eurovision-style voting system. It’s clear that the vote will be political, not at all on the quality of the bid. Lobbying has taken place; the European Affairs Minister has once again been present… It’s total uncertainly, because we don’t know what the reaction will be at the vote. A letter has been sent to the commissioner, initiated by Ciprian Tanasescu, who also worked the most. We counter-signed it for a re-assessment, because a technical mistake has indeed been made, but I believe no technical assessment will be considered, but it will be a political position instead,” MEP Maria Grapini stated for MEDIAFAX.

In his turn, Claudiu Ciprian Tanasescu announced that he notified the European Commission about the error made at the expense of Romania’s bid for the relocation of the EMA.

“These days, it’s important to try to fix this occurrence, which, until proven otherwise, I’m willing to consider “an accident”! Consequently, through the procedure in my reach, that of questioning the European Commission, I’ve already notified the EC about this aspect and I’ve asked them how they plan to fix the glaring error made in assessing Romania’s bid. Here is the relevant part of my overture, to which I’m waiting an answer with interest, a prompt and – if possible – fair answer followed by a serious step, on the part of EC officials, in the direction of remedying the damage done to a member state: ‘The European Commission admitted only on 27 October 2017 that it erred in assessing Romania’s bid to [host] the EMA, in which time most of the member states formed a mistaken opinion regarding Romania’s bid. What are the actions that the Commission will carry out to bring Romania’s bid for the relocation of the EMA to the position of equal chances with the other competitors, considering the mistakes the Commission admitted doing when assessing Romania’s bid, and the fact that the correct assessment shows that Romania has one of the best bids for the relocation of the EMA?’” MEP Claudiu Ciprian Tanasescu wrote on his Facebook page.

He referred to an address received by Luminita Odobescu, Romania’s permanent representative at the European Union, and published by stiripesurse.ro, an address in which European Commission officials admit that Bucharest took at governmental level the commitment to create a special department for the relocation of the Agency, that they did not mention the conference rooms available in the new buildings and forgot to mention that Romania has educational facilities.

On the other hand, some Romanian MEPs are criticising the delay with which our country tried to engage in lobbying for this bid.

“The fact that several MEPs signed a piece of paper and a minister announced his intention to relocate the Agency doesn’t mean it’s also happening. Others lobbied for this long before. The chances were very slim from the start. Those who are now saying we were disfavoured in the assessment are saying it without too many arguments. I don’t believe there was disfavour, I believe we started late, we did everything hastily, randomly. (…) I believe it’s the fault of the Romanian authorities, of those who asked for something without knowing how to manage this whole lobbying, this negotiation activity. (…) The candidacy file, with presentation films… you can’t paint the fence when everyone knows the problems Romania is facing lately. The image that Romania has in Brussels is very, very bad. What chances would there be, after OUG [Government Emergency Ordinance] no.13, after days with hundreds of thousands of people in the street, with a Government toppled by its own party, what chances would there be for someone in Brussels deciding that an important agency should move to Bucharest? Political and social instability cannot be arguments in favour,” MEP Catalin Ivan stated for MEDIAFAX.

“There will be a vote, it’s a decision based on the options of all member states and Romania relies, from what I know, on the support of several states that did not file bids. It is waiting to see how much of the efforts made to convince that Bucharest is a serious candidate are successful. There are very many candidacies. The principle that was established in 2004, the European Council that preceded the large expansion by 10 countries, established that the member states in which there are no agencies will be privileged. And it’s true that some new member states that joined in 2004 have become the home of new agencies. However, at this moment, considering the 2007 and the 2013 expansion with Croatia, there are five countries that have no agency, including Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia. Cyprus is the fifth country with no agency. However, of these five, Cyprus did not file a bid. So, there are four new countries vying over hosting the Agency of Medicine, alongside other countries that are already hosting other European agencies. We are not the only ones entitled and that is why the dossier of each country is being judged, taking into account what each of them proposed,” MEP Cristian Preda told MEDIAFAX.

Asked whether he believes Romania’s dossier was shown disfavour, Preda explained: “There are frustrated people who believe we have been wronged ever since Burebista. I don’t think they should be taken seriously. It’s a decision based on a principle established in 2004, we’ll see if it’s going to be respected.”

Cristian Busoi also criticised the Romanian authorities’ promotion campaign for the relocation of the European Medicine Agency in our country.

“I believe it wasn’t the best promotion campaign, unfortunately. It started late, fairly amateurishly, only a few persons involved, not the whole Government and all governmental institutions, (…) it wasn’t something very articulated. Plus, the problems concerning the building, which are real and concern access [to it] and the meeting hall, which seems to be in a different location, and the fact that not all of them are ready yet. If you put yourself in the shoes of the persons working there, other cities maybe seem more appealing to live in, but it’s not about this. The important thing is that we have a candidacy that is very valid, and it would be fair for Romania to host a European agency because not all of them can concentrate in several EU countries. I believe there are still chances,” MEP Cristian Busoi stated for MEDIAFAX.


Health Ministry Secretary of State: Vote for EMA is political, like the one at Eurovision


Rodica Nassar, Secretary of State within the Health Ministry, stated for MEDIAFAX that Romania has a complete dossier in what concerns the relocation of the European Medicine Agency, but says the vote in this case is political, “like the one at Eurovision.”

“Romania is making great efforts to promote its bid for the relocation of the European Medicine Agency. Romania’s ambassadors to EU member states that will have the veto right have had countless meetings in this sense. Minister Bodog has visited several countries where he presented our dossier, so that we could win as many votes as possible. The latest meeting was with the Slovak Health Minister, which took place in Bucharest. Slovakia is a candidate too, and the two ministers mutually presented their dossiers. During these days, Mr Nicolae Fotin, President of the National Medicine Agency, is travelling, based on the minister’s order, to six European countries that are not candidates but that could give us their votes. We already know the vote is political, like the one at Eurovision, namely each country can offer six votes, three of which can be for its own candidacy,” Health Ministry Secretary of State Rodica Nassar stated.

She added that Romania’s dossier is complete.

“There are countries that showed up with incomplete dossiers, which makes us believe we have real chances of winning the EMA relocation. The vote will take place on November 20,” Rodica Nasser added.


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