EU chooses Frankfurt as headquarters for anti-money laundering agency

This Thursday, the European Union chose the German city of Frankfurt as the headquarters of the European Agency against Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism (AMLA). The candidacy clearly dominated Madrid and the other seven candidates in the voting, which was attended by both ambassadors of the 27 member states representing the Council of the EU and the European Parliament.

The Madrid City Council and the Ministry of Economy, who worked together for the candidacy presented last November, remained hopeful at the beginning of this Thursday, but ultimately Madrid lost the race in which it was competing with eight other cities.

The German was always in the lead. In the final round, with 54 votes at stake (27 from the Council and 27 from the Parliament), Frankfurt has secured 28, Madrid 16, Paris 6 and Rome 4. In an unprecedented as well as absurd system, Spain (like France or Italy) was not able to vote for itself because of what it did, but because of the governments’ decision it did so in favor of the German city, while with He was waiting for the vote in favor of the MEP. ,

“Congratulations to Frankfurt on choosing the new headquarters of the EU Anti-Money Laundering Authority. We wished it would have been in Madrid, but it could not be. From Spain We will contribute with our knowledge and cutting-edge experience to the fight against money laundering,” congratulated the Economy Minister, Carlos Bodi, who has been very active in recent weeks in the campaign along with the Mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida.

This process has been pioneering but difficult to replicate. Usually, the decision is made only by national governments, which are accustomed to this type of agreement. In principle, to do this, we need to take into account the geographical balance in the union, the number of headquarters already present in each city or country, the connections, the infrastructure, the existence of the physical headquarters, facilities for employees and even business links. Should be kept in. The area being discussed. Following this last aspect, Paris and Madrid gained greater importance due to their experience in the fight against money laundering. But ultimately it is politics, pure politics. Influence, power, movement ability, resources and muscle power. And few have more than Germany, which has waged a fierce campaign since the summer.

“Amla will be a game-changer in the fight against dirty money in the EU. It will monitor the riskiest financial institutions, monitor the non-financial sector and play a vital role in preventing thieves from evading financial sanctions targeted at them.” -Reporters Emil Radev (EPP, Bulgaria) and Eva Maria Popatcheva, from Ciudadanos. The agency will be fully operational and its regulations will come into force in mid-2025, and is expected to have 250 to 400 experts on staff.

favorite of governments

The city of Hesse was a bet for governments, as the headquarters of the European Central Bank is located there and it has a significant financial importance for the country and therefore the entire European Union. The appointment system involved the European Parliament for the first time, but once the new law came into force, the trap was created. Despite the fact that it was elected by a simple majority and each party had 27 votes, the fact that the Council closed ranks with its system to keep the leading voice and chose a single city led to a conflict between potential voters. But victory became easier. MEPs, who welcomed alternatives such as the Spanish one.

The two institutions first determined their positions separately. After various visits, the ambassadors chose Frankfurt from the beginning and the agreement was that whatever came up, they would later support it without any rift in the next phase. Even if it means Spain, Italy and France will not support their candidates. During those tours, Madrid gained some support, but very little, insufficient among the member states, which made any choice impossible. Regardless of the final result, he was never close Or tight.

On the other hand, the European Parliament, which has to combine the preferences not only of geographical but also of political groups, had many other limitations. At its internal meeting, it decided to support four of the nine candidates: Madrid, Paris, Rome and definitively rejected Frankfurt, Brussels, Vienna, Vilnius, Riga or Dublin. But reaching the next stage with four options, the die was cast, although Spain were clearly the favorites of the nine.

When the final part was being addressed, rumors began to spread about a possible maneuver by MEPs to try to correct or change the procedure, knowing that another outcome was impossible with the format that Belgium had adopted. The President flatly refused.

Each bloc had 27 votes to cast, but if the council gave its votes to the German city, this was enough for one of the European Parliament’s political groups to support them, ending the discussion, as In the end, a simple do-nothing vote happened. Ahead. Changing the system at the last moment was not an option, so some deputies wanted to at least try to close ranks with another candidate, to make it more difficult, but this did not work either. Madrid got 16, but with 6 for Pace and 4 for Rome, it was all over.


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