D'Arcy pushes Irish case for EBA
The Minister of State for financial services, Michael D’Arcy, has undertaken an intense, three day tour of Southern European capitals of Nicosia, Valletta and Athens in the hope of improving Ireland's chances of becoming the new home of the European Banking Authority following Brexit. EU documents show that as part of its pitch the Irish government has offered €13.5 million to cover 50 per cent of the estimated rental costs of a suitable building for 10 years.

What the EBA lacks in terms of job numbers - it has under 200 staff - it more than makes up for in prestige, spin off opportunities for professional service firms and potential tax revenue. A total of eight member states have submitted bids and Dublin is competing with Brussels, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Paris, Prague, Vienna and Warsaw.
Michael D'Arcy
Michael D'Arcy

The EU is running what has been billed as a transparent process. Last June the Commission and Council set out detailed relocation criteria. Each application has been vetted, with the findings made public and presented last month to the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union.

In a process that has been likened to the Eurovision song contest, the 27 remaining EU countries will choose a winner using a relatively complicated scoring system and up to three rounds of secret voting. The decision will be announced on November 20th.

The process is supposed to be non-political. But the Minister's programme of activities, which includes extensive canvassing engagements followed by further bilateral engagements at ministerial and official level in the final days before voting, underscores the degree of negotiation going on.

Some of what Ireland has offered - and more particularly what it is regarded as having failed to offer - can be gleaned from the Commission's assessment summary for its bid published in September.

In it the Commission says Ireland's offer provides information on the selected locations being available for EBA to move in by the end of 2018, without specifying a relocation plan. It indicates the availability of 15 buildings that meet EBA requirements on layout and facilities and that would be available to be occupied by EBA by the end of 2018. "More particularly, the offer indicates that all the proposed buildings contain sufficient space for offices and meeting rooms, without specifying the surfaces."

The offer indicates the existence of a European school "without specifying the linguistic offer or availability in places" and of an international school, "without specifying its linguistic offer and its intention to set aside a number of places there for children of EBA". Nor does Ireland’s offer indicate terms concerning maintenance, upgrading and future extensions of the proposed buildings.

While it does indicate the intention of the Irish government to support EBA with an amount of €13.5 million that should cover 50 per cent of the rental costs for 10 years, it does not indicate special conditions with regard to costs and dedicated infrastructures.

Dublin is clearly up against stiff and determined competition. Luxembourg, for example, has offered a suitable building rent free and a detailed relocation plan which could be completed within 12 days while the Austrian government has offered to rent a suitable building in Vienna for 25 years which will then be made available to the EBA rent free.
This article appeared in the November 2017 edition.