Amsterdam Wins Bid To Host The European Medicines Agency Post Brexit

The European Medicines Agency has announced that it will be relocating from London to Amsterdam by the end of March 2019. The decision has been taken as part of the General Affairs Council in Article 50, and the agency will be working closely the with Dutch government between now and 30th March 2019 to move all its operations to Amsterdam and ensure a smooth transition to the city.

EMA Executive Director Guido Rasi said in a statement that “We welcome today’s decision on the new location of EMA. Now that we finally know where our journey is taking us, we can take concrete actions for a successful move. Amsterdam ticks many of our boxes. It offers excellent connectivity and a building that can be shaped according to our needs.”

“I am very grateful that the Member States took into account our requirements for business continuity and gave priority to the protection of public and animal health. Our internal surveys have shown that a large majority of EMA staff would be willing to move with the Agency to Amsterdam. However even in this case, our activities will be impacted and we need to plan for this now to avoid the creation of gaps in knowledge and expertise.”

The decision to relocate follows the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, the terms of which are currently under negotiation. The EMA opened in 1995 and has since become one of the EU’s most important agencies, carrying out assessments for medicines which are used across all member states. The agency employs over 900 members of staff in Canary Wharf and receives 36,000 scientists and regulators visit every year.

The European Banking Authority has already announced that it will be moving it’s office from London to Paris after Brexit. The EU’s chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, said at a conference that “Brexit means Brexit. The same people who argue for setting the UK free also argue that the UK should remain in some EU agencies.”

“But freedom implies responsibility for building new UK administrative capacity. The 27 will continue to deepen the work of those agencies, together. They will share the costs for running those agencies. Our businesses will benefit from their expertise. All of their work is firmly based on the EU treaties which the UK decided to leave.”

Amsterdam was one of 19 cities to offer to host the EMA after Brexit, including Copenhagen, Bratislava, Bucharest and Sofia. The agency’s decision follows an assessment of all the bids and the approval of the European Commission.  Dutch minister Halbe Zijlstra said that “We are delighted, it was very tight, it was nerve wracking to be honest.”

“My staff and I are very honoured that so many Member States showed an interest in hosting EMA,” Professor Rasi commented. “The huge effort invested by the bidding countries to put together their proposals is a reflection of the Agency’s important role in the protection of public and animal health and the stimulation of a vibrant and innovative pharmaceutical industry.”

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