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Belgian leader behind Helsinki pitch for food agency


Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said on Wednesday he would do everything possible to ensure Helsinki is picked to host the European Union's new food agency.

Finland, a EU member since 1995, has said it should host European Food Safety Agency because it does not yet have a single Union agency on its soil.

"As a prime minister of Belgium I have always been and stayed the best supporter for the European food agency to have its seat in Helsinki and I shall try to do my best to realise it," he told reporters during a brief official visit to Finland.

But Verhofstadt, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, said he was not speaking on behalf of the European Council.Finland has also touted its high standards of food safety and animal disease control.

Helsinki, Spain's second city Barcelona, Italy's Parma and the French city of Lille have applied for the right to host the food agency.A final decision on the headquarters of the European Food Authority, which will employ some 300 people, is expected to be made at an EU summit in Belgium in December.

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