EU facing eye-watering £370m bill over London office abandoned after Brexit

EU facing eye-watering £370m bill over London office abandoned after Brexit

WATCH: Nigel Farage said he's "glad I left EU"

GB News
George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 11/01/2024

- 14:57

The Canary Wharf office was previously used by the European Medicines Agency (EMA)

The European Union is facing a bill for millions for a huge office bloc in London that was vacated after Brexit.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) had occupied the 280,000-square-foot 30 Churchill Place in Canary Wharf.

After Brexit, the building was leased to US office rental business WeWork.

However, the future is unclear after the company filed for bankruptcy in November.

VDL and outside the building

EU facing eye-watering £370m bill over London office abandoned after Brexit

PA/Google Maps

A 25-year lease worth £500million was signed by the EMA for the property in 2011. However, following the referendum, it relocated 900 staff to Amsterdam. It then struck a deal with WeWork to sublet 10 floors of office space in 2019.

A document now circulated to the European Parliament’s budget committee and seen by The Daily Telegraph said the UK branch of WeWork would soon stop paying rent on the building.

Executive director of the MCC Brussels think tank Frank Furedi said: "EU taxpayers are on the hook for millions of Euros because of bad decisions by EU agencies.

"We are still paying for the incompetence of the EMA not negotiating an exit clause of their expensive London property.

"There was no need to rush forward to move the European Medicines Agency from London after Brexit, but because of that arrogant decision by the EU, millions will be wasted."


A sculpture outside a building

The entrance of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) headquarters in Amsterdam


The EU’s lease on 30 Churchill Place runs until June 2039, meaning it will be liable for £373m in rent if a longer-term solution is not identified.

If the building stays empty for the rest of the year, the EU will face a bill of £27m bill, with the EMA, which is an agency of the bloc, already requesting more cash to cover the hit to its budget.

A briefing note said: “The Agency’s current budget for 2024 does not have funding for additional costs outside its annual programme.

"As negotiations with WeWork UK continue, it appears increasingly likely that the Union budget will need to contribute towards the rent of the 30 Churchill Place premises, which has until now been fully covered by WeWork UK."

A WeWork spokesperson stressed it would carry on operations from its London premises and was not in breach of its financial obligations, adding: "We are up to date on our lease obligations at 30 Churchill Place, which remains open and operational.

"As part of our previously announced process, we continue to work constructively and collaboratively with our landlord partner at this flagship location to craft a solution that mutually benefits both parties for the long term."

An EMA spokesperson said: "WeWork filed for ‘Chapter 11’ bankruptcy protection in New Jersey (United States) on November 6 2023, in the context of an ongoing reorganisation of its business activities.

"Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code is a procedure which allows a debtor to remain in possession, continuing to operate its business, while a restructuring plan is agreed with its creditors. The bankruptcy protection filing concerns WeWork’s branches in the US and Canada only."

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