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11 months ago

Regions & Cities: The EU Agencies Race

EUobserver's 2017 Regions & Cities magazine takes a closer look at EU agencies and the benefits for cities and regions to host them. The UK leaving the EU has prompted a scramble for the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority among most of the remaining member states. But what makes a city competitive? Which cities stand a good chance to become the new hosts? And what do EU agencies bring to the local economy?

The

The construction of the third extension is an obvious way of assessing the impact of the agency on the region. EUIPO's new building will cost € 13.7 million needed to launch an EU-wide tender to get the job done. have been awarded to a local company. Sometimes the agency has a very direct impact on the region, like when it purchased a stretch of road from the Alicante municipality in 2016. The € 250,000 price tag, however, only represented 0.001 percent of the municipality's € 246 billion income that year. "The awarded provider can be a joint venture made up of different companies with different nationalities", said Luis Berenguer, head of communications at EUIPO. Although many may think that local companies hold a logistical advantage, there were no guarantees that the contract would be awarded to any of them. EUIPO has not kept records of how often tenders ECOSYSTEM Another way to look at the agency's regional impact is to take into account the knowledge and expertise it brings to the area. A 2015 study by the Chamber of Commerce of Alicante showed that EUIPO's presence in the area up by 26 percent since 2013. Photo: P 30 — REGIONS & CITIES OCTOBER 2017

Mediterranean coastline. According to the report, EUIPO's presence in Alicante has affected the region on different levels - socially as well as economically. The location of the agency in Alicante boosted an entire ecosystem professionals. and underlined its presence in the region as "our connection to a project that we defend to the death - that is Europe". This view is shared by Adrian of Alicante, who told EUobserver that "EUIPO helps the province to identify itself more with Europe". An entire intellectual property (IP) ecosystem has grown around EUIPO. "For example, the only Trademark Court in Spain is situated in Alicante, as with intellectual property matters opened branches in Alicante", he said. Gabriel Echavarri, the mayor of Alicante, emphasised the importance of the agency for the city. "One can realise its importance when travelling to Brussels. Alicante is because it is home to EUIPO," said Echavarri in an interview. He added that "Alicante would not be the same in any sense without EUIPO". Berenguer, a native of Alicante, considered the always been a very international city". Nevertheless, he added: "It's fair to say that no matter what seat same effect would have occurred". DEFEND TO THE DEATH Ximo Puig, the president of the regional government of Valencia, has described EUIPO as "the most important European agency in the Mediterranean" The socio-economic impact of EUIPO in the region is positive, although limited. As Berenguer said, "We are happy to see the city is growing and developing, but the objective of EUIPO is not, and should not be, to transform the city or the province". The EU agency illuminates Alicante on the map - pushing the city beyond tourism, good food and long beaches - and makes it a bit more European. REGIONS & CITIES OCTOBER 2017— 31