With a flurry of glossy brochures, slick videos, enticing financial offers and risible boasts, the competition to snaffle away London’s two prize EU agencies has begun.
A full list of the runners and riders for the spoils of Brexit was published by the European council on Tuesday after the midnight deadline.
Nineteen countries have officially lodged an application to host the European Medicines Agency, once the UK leaves the bloc in March 2019. Eight are chasing the European Banking Authority.
Some have hired PR agencies to craft their bids, some have enlisted their prime ministers to take part in Eurovision-style promotional videos. Others appear to have put in a bare minimum of effort, perhaps just happy to be in the race. A mere six member states – Estonia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania and Latvia – have decided not to bother.
The EU agencies, both currently based in Canary Wharf, east London, offer prestige to their host and an influx of high-spending visits from officials and experts. Britain has been given no option on keeping the organisations, home to about 1,000 staff and 40,000 visitors a year, despite some demurring by the Brexit secretary, David Davis. The British government is, however, expected to stump up the bill for the removal costs.
Among the more tongue-in-cheek efforts is the claim that Amsterdam is the right choice for the EMA given certain shared national characteristics with the British. “We are not that different,” the narrator of its official video says. “We also have a very stylish Queen and enjoy fish and chips. Besides our grasp of your language is outstanding.”
The Czech Republic is offering staff who work in the EBA free entry to 24 local museums for five years and unlimited access to Prague zoo while the Polish bid for the EBA suggests its food is its “best kept secret”. Vienna’s tap water is said to be the highest-quality mountain spring water and the city is also boasting of its status as the only major capital with a “significant wine-growing industry”.