It might be a cross between the Eurovision Song Contest, a papal conclave and a social club raffle however a ballot among EU ministers on Monday could damage Europe’s pharmaceutical industry and the health of millions.
It will correct the new home of the European Medicines Agency, which has to leave London by 2019 when Britain leaves the European Union; the majority of its 900 employees may refuse to proceed to many of the 19 cities in the running, the EMA warns. Replacing them would delay drug approvals and individual safety checks.
However the result, diplomats agree, is utterly inconsistent; weeks of horse-trading on issues unrelated to health care is going to wind up in hours of haggling between secret ballots in Brussels on Monday night. It might even return to drawing lots.
“Nobody really knows what will happen,” one diplomat said. “They will be locked there for hours … You may try to procure some backing but it is a secret ballot and you don’t have any means of assessing whether what you agreed was”
The fate of this 160-strong, London-based European Banking Authority (EBA) are also determined at the meeting of EU affairs ministers in another 27 member countries meet. But it’s the guarantee of spin-off jobs and traveling billions for the city which the EMA will change into a hub for Europe’s medical sector that’s firing up extreme national bidding rivalries.
The degree of the field is, in the memory of EU officials, likely unprecedented. Early talk of the EU executive winnowing down a brief list on the basis of “objective” standards went unheeded as authorities have waded in to get a share of the spoils.
Milan, Amsterdam and Barcelona campaigned hard. But there’s a push from eastern states, whose tardy membership means they sponsor fewer offices. Slovak capital Bratislava is a competition even though an EMA survey of its employees found most of these might quit if submitted to the bloc’s poor eastern regions.
A first ballot, to begin from about 4 p.m.(1500 GMT), will see ministers rank their top 3 choices. Unless a majority makes the exact first choice there’ll be a second vote one of the best picks then a third-round runoff. If it’s still tied, the Estonian meeting chairman will just draw lots.
The six states not bidding for agency have been courted assiduously and might seek favours elsewhere. Luxembourg and the Czech Republic are not bidding for the EMA but want others’ votes in their bids for the EBA. Whoever wins the EMA should then drop out of the running for the Banking Authority.
Giving an example of how the EU’s interlinked matrix of decision affects such votes, many diplomats said Slovakia might trade any disappointment at not receiving the EMA to support for its finance minister taking the seat of the Eurogroup, which conducts policy to the single currency area.
Senior officials liken the process to Europe’s yearly TV music schlock-fest, once the winner of this Eurovision Song Contest is frequently determined by viewers phoning in votes for actions from neighboring Arabian states and historical allies.
British bookmaker Ladbrokes has Milan that the 2-1 favourite to ensure the EMA, with Bratislava on 3-1 and Amsterdam 7-1. For the EBA, Frankfurt leads at 6-4 followed by Vienna and Dublin.
In Brussels, however, experienced diplomats hesitate to estimate odds: “The most likely result is one which is going to be perverse,” said one, remembering previous upsets behind closed doors.
Another referred to closeted cardinals electing popes in the Vatican: “At the end,” he said, “We will find the white smok”
Courtesy: The Globe And Mail