The Government has been called on to put together a proper bid for Ireland to host the new European Labour Authority (ELA), with Cork flagged as a viable location.
The proposed EU agency will have a €50m budget with over 140 staff but no location has been decided yet.
Labour’s Ireland South candidate and ICTU president Sheila Nunan told the Irish Examiner: “Now would be a great opportunity for Ireland to put together a serious bid for the ELA, and I think Cork would be the ideal location.”
The Government tried last year to attract two other major agencies that were moving from London because of Brexit. In the end, Amsterdam was chosen as a location for the European Medicines Agency while Dublin lost out to Paris on a bid to host the European Banking Authority.
Ms Nunan wants the same type of Government-backed bidding campaign for the new labour agency and for Cork to be considered as the location.
The new agency will facilitate access for individuals and employers to information on their rights and obligations. It will support co-operation between EU countries in cross-border enforcement and disputes.
Ms Nunan said: “The Government recently spent millions on two failed campaigns to attract the European Banking Authority and European Medicines Agency that are being moved from London following the decision of the UK to leave the EU.
She added: “If we could attract the ELA to our southern city it would also showcase the commitment of the Government to balanced regional development, and in particular boost business for Cork Airport.”
It is understood only Cyprus and Slovakia have declared intentions so far to bid for the agency.
A spokesman for Employment Minister Regina Doherty said there is no plan to bid for the agency. Furthermore, one of the selection criteria is that preference be given to countries that joined the EU in 2004, he said, and Ireland already has Eurofound, an EU agency that oversees working standards in the union.
Meanwhile, efforts to resolve the Brexit deadlock will continue today ahead of a deadline later this week which could see Britain crash out of the EU.
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin where British prime minister Theresa May’s latest request to extend the deadline until June 30 will be discussed. The visit is viewed as a show of solidarity with the a no-deal looming, ahead of an EU summit this week and with growing pressure on Dublin to compromise.
Mr Varadkar’s spokesman reiterated last night that he is open to a Brexit extension as long as it comes with a plan. The withdrawal agreement would not be renegotiated and “any talks [with Britain] must focus on the future relationship [with the EU]”, he added.