Irish EU officials not impressed with medicines agency email

Officials say Irish Government, seeking support for relocation, have neglected them

Irish officials working in the EU institutions have sharply responded to the Government's attempt to elicit their support as part of Ireland's effort to host the European Medicines Agency.

An email string, started on Friday, was sent to some 400 Irish officials working in the European institutions. This included Irish Commissioner Phil Hogan, officials the most senior level in the Commission, and senior Irish diplomats.

The emails prompted one official working for the EU’s diplomatic wing, the EEAS, to express regret at the years of apparent neglect by Irish officialdom towards its citizens working for the EU.

She was joined by other Irish officials in criticising the fact that those working in European institutions were disenfranchised from Irish elections, unlike Irish diplomats living abroad.


Maria McLoughlin wrote in a “reply to all” that, before appealing for their support, the Government should “first liaise with the Departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs to devise a regime, and to initiate appropriate legislation, so that Irish officials in the EU institutions – who ‘shall be considered, both in the country of their actual residence and in the country of domicile for tax purposes, as having maintained their domicile in the latter country’ (Article 13, Protocol 7, Privileges and Immunities of the European Union) – can vote in the national elections of our country, either by post or at the Irish Embassy to Belgium”.


She was backed by others who cited respectively 23 years, 32, 34 and 29 “years of disenfranchisement”, with one speaking of “disappointment”, including “the lack of satisfactory responses to our previous individual or group letters to the assorted ambassadors who have come and gone from Brussels over the decades”.

Another official noted that it was the first time he had seen a full list of Irish officials, with the suggestion that its distribution of addresses may constitute a breach of data privacy. “So, after 29 years in the EU institutions my Government needs me and has figured out where to find me?” wrote Ms McLoughlin.

The original email was issued by Louis Blessing, a Department of Health official working in the task force making the case for the relocation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to Dublin.

An initial decision by the Commission on the shortlisting of the 19 applicants will be made next weekend, after which the decision goes to the Council of Ministers and heads of government.

In his email Mr Blessing says: “Thank you for your continued support for the Dublin bid . As you know this procedure has generated intense competition and we are very grateful for all of the efforts of Irish colleagues in Brussels using every opportunity to promote Dublin as the best location for the new seat for the EMA.”

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth is former Europe editor of The Irish Times