Due to UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the European Medicines Agency is to be relocated to Amsterdam. However, the agency’s new building might not be ready in time.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is due to move to Amsterdam in April 2019, after being compelled to leave the UK because of Brexit. By way of reminder, the EMA is responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU. The Netherlands made no secret of their enthusiasm when the news fell, on October 20th, that the 900 highly-qualified and well-paid employees of the centre would come in their capital city.
The selection took place in the margins of the General Affairs Council. If Amsterdam was indeed a strong contender, the selection eventually had to draw cities from a bowl has the negotiations between the Member States’ Health Ministers had stalled – they granted Milan and Amsterdam 13 votes each in the final round.
An internal survey of the agency’s staff survey had also put the city at the top of the list of places they would like the agency to move to, with around 81% suggesting they would remain with the organisation if it were to move there. Europe’s pharma industry also welcomed the choice. Big companies like to have offices close to the agency as it also plays an advisory role. That will probably ensure some growth around the agency.
“We had a solid, substantive proposition based on the city’s recognised assets,” said the city’s deputy mayor, Udo Kock. “We showed we’d go the extra mile for the EMA and its staff. It was a great overall package – basically, everything except the weather.” However, the transition might prove harder than expected.
At first, the city council said it was possible that EMA staff would need a temporary location for a short period of time before they move to the new building. However, it tried to reassure the industry by promising a seamless transition to ensure that the agency’s work is not affected. Harder said than done, it would seem. The building that will eventually host the agency will not be ready until early 2020, according to two Dutch officials.
“We know that it will not be smooth,” EMA Executive Director Guido Rasi said. Another EMA official wrote that “each of the proposed temporary premises has weaknesses which raises concerns about EMA’s continuity of operation even if this is only for a period limited in time.” Despite this unfortunate delay, the city council assured critical conference facilities would be ready by April 1, 2019, the first working day after Brexit.
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