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Brexit Booty: Cities bidding for EU’s meds agency show off architectural ‘finery’

It’s stiff competition between 19 member states

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
9 August 2017, 7:30am
The European Medicines Agency in Canary Wharf, London
The European Medicines Agency in Canary Wharf, London
Malta is up against some serious competition to host the prestigious European Medicines Agency, Europe’s regulator for medicinal safety, which will have to relocate away from London following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

One of the greatest challenges for any of the 19 member states who bid to be the next host country of the EMA, is to provide suitable premises that can rival London’s Canary Wharf offices for the agency’s 900 staff members.

Malta has pledged to build a bespoke 30,000 square metre state-of-the-art premises at Smart City if the island is chosen to host the EMA.

Yet to be built, the Austria Campus
Yet to be built, the Austria Campus
In its bid, Malta has also offered tax reprieves, free rent for 15 years and a grant for furniture and data services, as well as the bespoke building, to give the EMA an environment that responds to their present and future projections in line with the agency’s requirements.

But Malta is also facing some considerable competition from other member states who are pitching very desirable locations for the agency building.

Austria has offered alternatives to the EMA, such as this site on the Erdberger Lande
Austria has offered alternatives to the EMA, such as this site on the Erdberger Lande
France, whose health minister, Agnès Buzyn visited the EMA twice, once in June and again in July, to find out staff needs, has proposed – like Malta – a 30,000 square metre space in the yet-to-be-built ‘Biotope’ in Lille. The Danish firm Henning Larsen has been tasked with the design of the building, which will be designed “in symbiosis with modern workspace psychology and nature”.

The Biotope will include a 300-seat auditorium dedicated to conferences, multiple meeting rooms, work and relaxation areas, and a panoramic restaurant. 

Formerly known as Torre Agbar, the Glories Tower is Barcelona’s glamorous offer to host the EMA
Formerly known as Torre Agbar, the Glories Tower is Barcelona’s glamorous offer to host the EMA
Spain has proposed Barcelona to host the EMA at the Torre Glòries skyscraper, formerly known as Torre Agbar, which is frequently compared with London’s “Gherkin” building. The 38-storey skyscraper marks the gateway to the new technological district of Barcelona and has 30,000 square metres of office space. Spain’s health minister, Dolors Montserrat has naturally dubbed Barcelona as “the best candidate” with the “the best city”, “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure”. Not to forget “the best option” and “the best country”.

Italy has entered the bid with the 32-storey Pirelli Tower in northeast Milan, but the building was designed and completed in 1956 and had major restoration carried out in 2003. The Pirelli building currently serves as the headquarters of the Regional Council of Lombardy, which will move out in 2018 if Italy is picked to host the EMA. 

Greece has offered a refitted tobacco factory to house the EMA
Greece has offered a refitted tobacco factory to house the EMA
Austria said it would lease the EMA premises on the real estate market for 25 years, for a total of at least 26,500 square metres, and has identified two buildings, the Austria Campus and VIE 26 Erdberger Lände. 

Greece, which officially announced its candidacy on 21 July, has suggested the former building of a Greek tobacco company as the new EMA home. The seven-storey Keranis Building, the Greeks say, has been “transformed into a high-end, fully operational building of 44,800 square metres.”

Milan’s Pirelli Building
Milan’s Pirelli Building
Germany is offering two new building projects in Bonn: the sites “Bundeskanzlerplatz” and “Friedrich-Ebert-Allee”, with new buildings to be tailored to the needs and preferences of the EMA, including requirements for high-performance digital infrastructure. The new building options are in an excellent central location in Bonn’s Bundesviertel district.

Stockholm is offering a selection of buildings at the hub of its burgeoning life sciences district, Life City, with 28,000 square metres of space available, but also its former Central Post Office building, completed in 1903 and considered to be one of the foremost monumental buildings in Sweden at the time. In addition to Life City and the Central Post Office, Sweden is able to offer alternative options such as Härden 15 – an existing building in the vicinity of Karolinska Institutet.

Malta’s Smart City would host the EMA
Malta’s Smart City would host the EMA
There have been 19 offers to host the EMA: Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Bonn, Bratislava, Brussels, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Helsinki, Lille, Malta, Milan, Porto, Sofia, Stockholm, Vienna, Warsaw and Zagreb.

The Commission will assess the offers based on six criteria agreed by EU leaders: assurance that the agency is operational when the UK leaves the EU; accessibility of the location; schools for the children of the agency staff; access to the labour market and health care for employees’ spouses and children; business continuity; and geographical spread.

The Commission will announce its assessment of the bids on 30 September. After discussion with the general affairs council in October, a final decision will be made in November.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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