Malaga faces major setback to its hopes of housing the European Medicines Agency

The mayor of Malaga (centre) at the conference.
The mayor of Malaga (centre) at the conference. / D. Pérez
  • The PP, PSOE and Ciudadanos voted for Barcelona to be the new location for this European organisation

Malaga's hopes that the European Medicines Agency would move to the city have been dashed after Barcelona received more support as a suitable location from the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. The Committee approved a proposal from the Partido Demócrata Catalán (formerly Convergencia), to urge the government to present Barcelona as the headquarters for the Agency, which will have to leave London when Britain withdraws from the European Union. The proposal received 25 votes in favour from the PP, PSOE, Ciudadanos and Grupo Mixto and there were five abstentions (Unidos Podemos). This came as a major disappointment for Malaga, whose possibilities are now dissolving like a spoonful of sugar in a cup of coffee. The Foreign Affairs Committee's decision that Barcelona would be a more suitable location was supported by the Minister of Health, Dolors Montserrat. One Ciudadanos MP, Francisco Igea, went so far as to say that not only does Barcelona meet all the criteria to host the Agency, but it is also the government's preferred choice.

The Agency employs more than 800 staff and there are 30 working groups comprising several thousand European scientists, who are responsible for regulating medication in Europe. It was created in1995 and has an annual budget of more than 300 million euros. It is primarily responsible for protecting and promoting public and animal health by evaluating and supervising medication which is used by doctors and vets. It also considers applications from drug companies for their products to be authorised in Europe.

Spain is competing with other countries including Italy, Sweden and Germany to be the new headquarters of the Medication Agency. The mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, firmly believes that Malaga would be the ideal location and has argued to this effect with his political party, the PP, in Madrid, but it has decided in favour of Barcelona.

During the debate, the socialists proposed that the government should be urged to approach the European institutions to suggest that Spain should be the new location for all EU agencies and associations which are currently based in London after Brexit, particularly the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority. However, the motion was over-ruled on the basis that it is too early and would be "trying to run before learning to walk".

However, Francisco Conejo, PSOE's secretary for Institutional Policy in Andalucía, says that his party believes an application should be made for the Medicines Agency to move to Spain and that the city in which it should be located could be decided at a later date.

"There's nothing wrong with a bit of competition between cities. What we have to do is present a strong and consensual candidacy for Spain to the European Union," he insists.