Bulgaria’s Cabinet has decided to nominate Sofia to host the European Medicines Agency, one of two major European Union bodies currently hosted in the United Kingdom but that will be relocated after Brexit.
The Bulgarian government announcement was made on the evening of July 31 as the midnight deadline for submitting bids loomed.
A Bulgarian government statement said that the application was filed according to the standards established in the EU.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, in an official letter to European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said: “This decision reflects Bulgaria’s commitment to common European values and fundamental principles as well as the willingness of our country to continue to contribute constructively to the consolidation of the objectives of European policies, including in the field of public health”.
The letter highlights the advantages of the Bulgarian capital as a location for the European Medicines Ageny and expects the candidacy of Sofia to be welcomed and appreciated positively, the government statement said.
By September 30, the European Commission will review the applications submitted. The decision to relocate the European Medicines Agency should be taken in November, in a process – as noted in a report by the BBC about the bidding to host it and the European Banking Authority – reminiscent of the Eurovision Song Contest.
The government statement said the candidacy bid emphasised that Bulgaria has good economic and social prospects, stable economic development, a rapidly expanding labour market and strong pro-European public attitudes.
The bid also underlineds the benefits of Bulgaria under the six criteria on which the European Commission will decide on the relocation.
A special place in the argumentation is given to the IT sector, which grows on average by 7.3 per cent per year.
The European Medicines Agency headquarters in Sofia will be an integral part of the hi-tech environment in Sofia Tech Park, which is a strategic project for the Bulgarian state and the European Union.
“Bulgaria has established traditions and well-known expertise in the pharmaceutical and medical sector as well as in the field of medical education,” Borissov said.
“Bulgaria’s firm commitment to promote research and innovation in these areas is another solid argument for the relocation of the EMA to Sofia. Economically attractive services in education, healthcare and living conditions will ensure a smooth and financially effective relocation of the EMA,” he said.
He is convinced that the forthcoming decision to relocate London-based agencies should take into account the conclusions of the European Council of 2003 and 2008 clearly setting out the priority to be given to achieving a geographical balance in the allocation of the agencies in the EU.
This was government-speak for the notion of distributing EU institutions further among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, by implication, including Bulgaria.
“I believe that respect for this commitment will strengthen the fairness of the decision-making process and its outcome. In addition, this decision will strengthen the positive image of the EU as a Union of justice, solidarity and commitment to true cohesion,” Borissov said.
The future building of the future EMA site is at the planning stage. It will be fully functional at the date of relocation of the agency, but not later than January 1 2019. The total building area of the plant will exceed 30 000 square metres.
The Bulgarian government statement said that the future EMA headquarters is less than 10 minutes from Sofia Airport, which serves 83 international destinations and is able to meet the travel requirements of the European experts who will participate in the EFA Scientific Committees and in the 34 working groups of the advisory groups.
Bulgaria’s capital Sofia has 12 000 hotel rooms in various categories, 5000 of which are less than four km from the agency’s planned location.
The children of the 890 employees will have the right to free access to school education in state and municipal schools. In addition, Sofia has a network of international schools with well-established standards, as well as 22 universities.
As regards the labour market, social security and medical care, Bulgaria offers access to preventive healthcare and promotional programs for agency staff, their children and spouses in the well-developed network of 59 health care institutions in Sofia, the statement said.
(Photo, of the Canary Wharf construction project in 2013: Chmee2)