Amsterdam picked to host European Union medicines agency after Brexit

EU's drug industry waits for white smoke from Brussels

After three rounds of voting, the Dutch capital was tied with Milan, resulting in the coin toss as a tie-breaker on Monday in Brussels, Reuters reported.

Slovakia refused to vote in the European Union run-off vote to decide the location of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), angry none of the newer members of the bloc made it past the first round.

EU President Donald Tusk said on Twitter before the vote that "whatever the outcome, the real victor of today's vote is EU27".

Senior officials liken the process to Europe's annual TV music schlock-fest, when the victor of the Eurovision Song Contest is often determined by viewers phoning in votes for acts from like-minded neighboring states and historic allies. Nonetheless, many had expected the voting to involve come-from-behind surprises and a mixture of backscratching and backstabbing.

While "regional balance" had been among criteria that ministers were asked to observe in voting, so too was the ability to maintain the business continuity of agencies which already have about 1,000 employees between them in London. Axed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said that Barcelona had been the "favourite" but that the "state had condemned it", blaming violence over the region's disputed independence vote.

The medicines agency and pharmaceutical groups welcomed the decision following fears many of its leading staff members would have quit had the European Union chosen a less attractive host city.

Both are now based in London's Docklands business district but must move when Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019 because EU agencies are not allowed to be based outside the union.

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Member states had pulled out all the stops to extol the merits of their candidate cities, producing glossy brochures and videos and offering a host of perks.

In a process only half-jokingly compared to the Eurovision Song Contest, ministers will vote on where to relocate the European Medicines Agency and European Banking Authority.

The Irish government said it was willing to contribute €78 million ($92 million) over 10 years to cover costs, while Vienna promised a children's nursery, and Milan threw in access to a gym.

The run-off between Amsterdam and Milan, after Copenhagen was knocked out, saw a 13-13 draw that had to be decided by lucky dip.

The two winners - whichever country wins the EMA will not be allowed to seek the EBA - will be picked on Monday in a series of votes so complex that it is hard to predict the result.

No cities were named, but according to leaks in the press, Bratislava, Warsaw, Bucharest and Sofia stood out as the least popular.

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