By Dr. Tanja Eisenblätter
The bids to host the EMA are in! We have reviewed all of them and give you our personal impressions on what to expect.
After the EMA has announced the development of a business continuity plan to deal with the workload implications that are accompanied by Brexit and the Agency's relocation, the most important question is still unanswered. EMA, where will you call home? As part of the selection procedure, starting now, nineteen cities submitted their pitches for hosting the EMA. Unsurprisingly, the contestants are Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Bonn, Bratislava, Brussels, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Helsinki, Lille, Malta, Milan, Porto, Sofia, Stockholm, Vienna, Warsaw, and Zagreb. The submission of the offers will be followed by the European Commission's assessment of the offers based on agreed criteria (e.g. providing appropriate offices that are near an airport or the existence of adequate education facilities for the children of agency staff), and in November 2017, the 27 member states will vote and decide where EMA will relocate in a voting process similar to the process used for the decision on the relocation of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL).
Trying to convince the selection committee of their advantages, most of the cities created short films to present themselves, thereby explaining why they are the best choice for the EMA's new home. While Athens, Brussels and Sofia came to the conclusion that their bids speak for themselves, Vienna played it safe - and made its video twice as long as the others.
The videos are as different as the cities themselves. But don't worry EMA, you can hardly make a wrong choice, you will end up in a beautiful and safe city wherever you go. Whether you choose Bonn, in the heart of Europe, or Copenhagen, in the heart of Europe's biggest Life Science cluster, it is definitely a matter of the heart for every city. Some of the cities fully concentrate on the needs of the EMA. Others, like Warsaw, submitted a more generic pitch. It is also striking that some of the cities seem to want the EMA more than others. Dublin, for example, has three buildings to choose from and offers the staff of the EMA "a hundred thousand welcomes".
Connectivity and public transportation are also important issues, which most bidders focused on. The EMA is offered delights such as: the longest railway tracks; the largest amount of metro stations; or like in Milan, bike stations and car sharing options. It gets even better in Porto, where, while public transportation is also good, "you can walk everywhere in the city". There is one city that can keep up with this: Bucharest advertises very low taxi fees, just 0.45 €/km, so it's hardly worth walking. As expected, several cities point to favorable climatic conditions. While Vienna is proud of its four seasons, Malta offers working in a holiday destination where EMA employees do not have to worry about wind or rain.
We found that all of the cities taking part in this selection procedure have good arguments in favor of becoming the new hometown of the EMA. Still, taking an overall view some pitches seem more convincing than others. One of our favorites is The Netherlands with its capital city, Amsterdam. We were convinced by the Netherland's "stylish queen" and liked the fact that EMA employees could still eat fish and chips. One should also keep in mind that Helsinki, as it is correctly pointed out in the Finish video, has already stepped in for London once, after London had to step down from hosting of the European Athletics Championships in 2009. Back then everything went well, so why shouldn't it work a second time? It is a tough choice!
Links to the bid documents and videos can be found here: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/relocation-uk-based-agencies/ema/