Luxembourg loses to Paris in bid to host EBA post-Brexit
Luxembourg crashed out in the first round of voting and failed in its bid to become the new seat of Europe's banking regulator, which will go to Paris after a tie-break with Dublin.
The vote took place at a meeting of the European Council, which decided where the London-headquartered European Banking Authority (EBA) will operate from after Britain leaves the European Union (EU) in March 2019.
The council defines the EU's overall political direction and priorities.
Three rounds of voting by secret ballot decided the agency's future location. Ultimately, Maati Maasikas, Estonia's Deputy Minister for EU Affairs, made it Paris by drawing lots from a "big transparent bowl", he told a news conference in Brussels.
Estonia holds the rotating EU presidency.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told the Wort he congratulated French President Emmanuel Macron personally.
"It is a pity Luxembourg was not retained as a location for European banking supervision because our candidacy was definitely one of the best," he said.
"Unfortunately, political considerations played a much bigger role than the quality of the application. In addition, Luxembourg was recently designated as the location of the European Public Prosecutor's Office. That probably played a role."
Luxembourg had offered to house the EBA rent-free in a 4,200 square metre building on the Route d'Arlon.
The EBA is an independent EU Authority that works to ensure effective and consistent prudential regulation and supervision across the European banking sector, according to its website.
Its overall objectives are to maintain financial stability in the EU and to safeguard the integrity, efficiency and orderly functioning of the banking sector.
Nathalie Loiseau, France's minister for European affairs, told reporters via translation that the vote had been "very close because there were so many high-quality candidates".
EU sources in Brussels said the Grand-Duchy failed to win enough votes to proceed to a second round.
Vienna, viewed as one of the frontrunners, also lost out in the first round. Frankfurt, Warsaw, Prague and Brussels failed in their bids too.
The London-based European Medicines Agency (EMA) will move to Amsterdam.
The EMA is responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU.
Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra said there would be continuity in the move.
"When the doors close on Friday in London, they will open on Monday in Amsterdam," he said to journalists.
"It is good for staff in the EMA because they know where their future lies, and they can be sure there are offices available."
The European Council was also briefed by the EU's chief Brexit negotiatior Michel Barnier about the progress of the negotiations over the UK's withdrawal from the bloc, Estonia's Maasikas said.
"What our chief negotiator told us is he will need a clear commitment that obviously goes beyond Florence and is more precise, and he will need it very soon," Maasikas said. "We are working under huge time pressure here."
Brexit negotiations have been deadlocked. The EU wants to focus on citizens' rights, how much Britain will pay for commitments made while it was a member and Northern Ireland's border with the Republic.
Only when discussions are deemed by the EU to be far enough advanced will negotiations move to the areas the UK wants to talk about: trade and the future relationship.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May, in her speech in Florence on September 22, provided some details about Britain's position in the talks.
She proposed, amongst other things, a two-year transition – or "implementation" – period for the country after it leaves the EU, during which it will still adhere to the bloc's rules and regulations.
(Diego Velazquez and Alistair Holloway, email@example.com, +352 49 93 739)
(With additional reporting by Hannah Brenton)