Milan’s mayor visits London to woo EU agencies

Shopping for post-Brexit relocations.

Milanàs mayor Beppe Sala made a one-day trip to London on Wednesday 6 July to explore the possibilities of enticing UK-based EU agencies to relocate to Milan following last month’s Brexit referendum.

Organised by the Italian embassy in London, Sala’s programme concentrated on two agencies, the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), both located in the city’s modern Canary Wharf business zone.

The chief officers of both agencies happen to be Italians, and there are also many Italians among the roughly one thousand employees of the two central agencies.

Sala’s objective was to explain the advantages of Milan to Andrea Enria, president of the EBA, and Guido Rasi, EMA executive director. He pointed out the advantages of the city’s geographical location and its excellent national and local transport connections, as well as the availability of the former Expo Milan 2015 area, being developed as a business, science and leisure zone.

The advantages of attracting to Milan these and similar bodies begin with the prestige of hosting EU agencies. Further, they would act as catalysts to attract other offices in the financial and pharmaceutical sectors, bringing with them staff and business to boost the local economy.

Other European capitals are also interested in recruiting the UK-based agencies and businesses worried about the effect of the Brexit vote on their future. But Sala is one of the first off the mark; already on the afternoon of the day the referendum result was announced, he had told media he had plans to turn the vote to the city’s advantage.

This in spite of the view of the New York Times, which in a recent article placed Milan eighth out of nine European capitals likely to attract London break-aways, beating only Barcelona and lagging far behind the leader, Amsterdam. The analysis blamed Italy’s general business climate, its airports and the low 34 per cent level of fluency in English.