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What are EU agencies?

EU agencies are bodies separate from the EU institutions which assist the European Commission and the Council in the implementation of EU policies. They have generally been granted limited and clearly defined executive powers, which are subject to judicial review. There are different types of EU agencies: decentralised, executive, Euratom and Common Security and Defence Policy agencies.

What about the two EU agencies based in the UK?

Two of the decentralised agencies, the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority, are currently based in London at Canary Wharf. These two agencies will have to re-locate because of Brexit, which will mean the loss of jobs, tax revenue, expertise and networking opportunities. Relocation is likely to be settled in advance of Brexit and there have already been several informal bids for the UK-based agencies from other Member States. The European Commission has said the UK should pay for the cost of relocation.

Will the UK be able to participate in EU agencies after Brexit?

Brexit has raised the question of the UK’s membership of or future participation in the work of EU agencies. Many of them allow non-EU states to participate in their activities, although the founding acts of some do not permit third state participation.

Participation might be based on an administrative arrangement or a memorandum of cooperation between the EU or the EU agency – there are legal questions about the power of the agencies themselves to conclude agreements of this kind – and the UK.

The UK could seek to continue to participate after Brexit in the work of those EU agencies where third party participation is allowed. In this case it would probably have to contribute to the agency budget and accept the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU. Such arrangements could be discussed at the withdrawal negotiations and/or be included in an agreement on the UK’s future relations with the EU.

EU arrangements for third party participation

This paper includes a table indicating which EU agencies allow third state participation. The agencies’ founding acts state whether third party membership, participation or observer status is possible. The table includes links to the founding regulations.

Other Commons briefing papers on EU agencies and issues for the UK

The implications of Brexit for UK participation in EU agencies in the area of national security are discussed in Commons Briefing Paper 7798, 31 March 2017, Brexit: implications for national security; in the area of crime and policing in CBP 7650, 24 February 2017, Brexit: implications for policing and criminal justice cooperation; and in human and veterinary medicines in Commons Debate pack 2016-0173, 12 October 2016, Future of the European Medicines Agency.


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