EU rivals vie to wrest drug and banking agencies from London

Tue Jul 5, 2016 10:37am EDT
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By Agnieszka Flak and Ben Hirschler

MILAN/LONDON (Reuters) - Milan's new mayor Giuseppe Sala will fly into London on Wednesday, stepping up a battle between European cities competing to wrest two prestigious European Union agencies from London in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the bloc.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA) together employ more than 1,000 skilled staff from across the EU. Both are expected to relocate as a result of the so-called Brexit decision.

The agencies are prized not only for jobs but also for their potential to act as hubs for finance and pharmaceuticals, two of Europe's most important industries.

That has set off a battle from Madrid to Stockholm to Warsaw as EU members seek to grab one or other organization, in the knowledge that banks and drugmakers will want to maintain close ties with key regulators.

Sala will meet the heads of the EBA and EMA during his one-day trip, which was arranged by the Italian ambassador in London, the mayor's office said.

Both bodies have Italians in top positions, with former Bank of Italy regulator Andrea Enria chairing the EBA and a one-time head of the Italian Medicines Agency, Guido Rasi, the executive director of the EMA.

They also have a lot of Italians working for them in London.

Sala's sales pitch for Milan includes the city's attractive lifestyle and convenient location, as well as the former Expo trade fair area he believes would make an ideal location for the EU bodies.   Continued...

A European Union flag is held in front of the Big Ben clock tower in Parliament Square during a 'March for Europe' demonstration against Britain's decision to leave the European Union, central London, Britain July 2, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hackett