The General Affairs Council of the European Union has decided that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will relocate to Amsterdam when it leaves London in 2019. The EMA relocation is a direct consequence of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU. EMA has been based in London since it was established in 1995 and currently employs around 900 staff members at its headquarters in Canary Wharf, London.
A total of 19 cities from across the EU made bids to host the agency, with Amsterdam ultimately landing the project.
“My staff and I are very honored that so many Member States showed an interest in hosting EMA,” said EMA Executive Director Guido Rasi. “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.”
“This is a fantastic outcome,” said Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Halbe Zijlstra. “It’s good for the Netherlands, but above all, it’s good for EU citizens who can continue to count on high-quality medicines and proper supervision of medicines. It shows that we can tackle the effects of Brexit with resolve.”
EMA is responsible for assessing the efficacy, quality, and safety of new medicines, for human and animal health, before they are approved for the European market. In addition, the organization supervises the safety of authorized medicines and promotes research into and the development of new medicines. Every year EMA organizes hundreds of meetings for thousands of experts from Europe and further afield.
The organization has approximately 900 highly qualified staff from all the EU member states. A large majority of EMA staff expressed their willingness to move with the agency to the new home in Amsterdam. The EU had set out six criteria to be met when evaluating candidate locations, including the city’s ability to get the agency fully operational on time, transport accessibility, available schooling, and employment opportunities for spouses.
The European Pharmaceutical Network
The Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG) is a major contributor of expertise to the European network of pharmaceutical authorities coordinated by EMA. A large number of pharmaceutical organizations are currently located in London, many of whom work intensively with EMA. It is likely that at least some of these organizations will want to relocate along with EMA. This could potentially strengthen the Dutch position in European pharmaceutical policy and boost the Netherlands’ attractiveness to companies and institutions in the top sectors of life sciences and health, and agrifood.
“This is good news for all patients across Europe,” said Dutch Minister for Healthcare, Bruno Bruins. “In Amsterdam, the EMA will be able to continue its important work without interruption after Brexit. The Agency can continue to grant access to new, innovative medicines without delay.
“Now, the real work begins,” he added. “Amsterdam and the Netherlands as a whole are fully committed to ensuring the EMA’s relocation runs smoothly. We are ready to get started and we will make sure that the EMA’s important work is not disrupted.”
Effective collaboration between EMA and the Netherlands on the basis of the commitments made in its offer to host EMA is the key to ensuring a successful move and the continuation of EMA’s operations with minimal disruption. The agency now has about 16 months to prepare for the move and began operations in Amsterdam by March 30, 2019.