Italian politics

Amsterdam is a good choice for EMA, but deciding by lottery is insane

The EU chose Amsterdam as the new EMA location. With a lottery. I'm fine with the choice, but not with the process.

Congratulations, we’ve just lost another fight in the battle against (Italian) Euroskepticism.

This evening, the European Union decided about the future location of two of its main agencies. It turns out that both decisions were tied, and the decision was eventually made by means of a lottery. It’s a shame that apparently nobody really questioned this procedure when it was proposed, because while it is maybe fair (as the last step of an inherently non-objective and political process), it is also total bananas.

Not surprisingly, reactions in Italy are not very positive. Milan was close to have the winning bid. In the second round, the city was just two votes shy of the majority, and it had been ahead in all but the final round. It’s a good example of how simple majorities in systems with more than two players do not justify absolute majorities of power, and why a voting system with first and second preference is an interesting thing to talk about. (London has practiced it in the past.) It would also have been a great solution for this particular voting process that very likely would have produced a majority already in the second round. Curiously, it actually was part of the voting process in the first round, but not in the second round anymore.

That it now goes to Amsterdam, however, doesn’t mean it’s a bad location for the EMA.

Zagreb and Stockholm would have been. My criticism solely points at the process. We would never advice any firm to pick a location for a new site or store by lottery. We wouldn’t even buy or rent a apartment based on a lottery. Common sense is to gather more information when we make a 325mn EUR investment.

Or, to not forget about that, when we decide about the fate of 900 employees, their spouses, and all the political and economic consequences in the context of this decision. Watching the video that accompanied Milan’s bid for the EMA, you’ll notice that this was the focus of the Italian campaign.

It didn’t fully work, though it worked better than the bids of many other candidates. Except Amsterdam.

One more thing that is noteworthy about this decision is the following statement:

The differences are immediately apparent: the commission’s assessment was based only on the information provided by member states in their official bid documents, because of “the limited time available and in order to treat all offers fairly”.

That brings it down to a match of marketing agencies. At least, the EMA’s own objective assessment of publicly available data was input for the voting, allegedly.

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