Amsterdam To Host the European Medicines Agency

Amsterdam To Host the European Medicines Agency. This was decided at a meeting of the EU General Affairs Council this afternoon.  Amsterdam has beaten the 18 other cities that initially entered, to win the competition.  The competition to host the agency has been hard fought and has dominated conversations of regulatory and other life science professionals since the UK decided to leave the European Union.  The agency employs almost 900 staff and there was significant coverage in recent weeks about the likelihood of staff members at The European Medicines Agency to relocate to the new host city.  Now that the decision has been made the planning to relocate almost 900 staff and their families can begin.

Over the course of the competitive process there were a number of cities who saw their stock rise and fall as events and other circumstances took over.  Barcelona was, perhaps, the most notable of these.  The political turmoil that gripped Catalonia almost certainly ended all hopes of Torre Agbar hosting the agency.  Dublin‘s bid was regarded as a viable option until the leaking of a confidential poll by EMA staff showing that relocating to the Irish capital might have seen a sizable number of EMA staff leaving the agency.  It could be argued that the Irish bid never regained its momentum.  Dublin was one of three cities that withdrew their bid earlier today in advance of the vote.  The Irish bid was withdrawn to strengthen the Dublin bid for the European Banking Authority.  Dublin lost out to Paris in that regard by the drawing of lots.

Voting took place on November 20th 2017 and there were three rounds of voting.  Bratislava had emerged in the closing stages as a surprise contender.  However it did not make it to the final stages much to the chagrin of Slovak officials.  It finished fourth in the initial voting round.  “We are convinced that the citizens of the European Union from the newer member states expected an important signal that showed that even the new member states would be given the opportunity to demonstrate their readiness to host such an important agency as the EMA,” said Peter Susko, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry.

Milan lost out to Amsterdam as the location was decided by a ‘coin toss’.  Both cities were tied on points at the end of three rounds of voting.  “It leaves a bitter taste to lose with a random mechanism, with a ball extracted…on a tossed coin there’s no possible political influence” said Sandro Gozi, Italy’s EU Affairs minister. You can watch a video of the decision being announced and background to the vote at the General Affairs Council below.

There are now less than 17 months for The European Medicines Agency to establish its presence in its new host city.  Irrespective of transition deals that may be agreed, the agency will be working from its new facility in Amsterdam by April 2019.  Aside from the organisation’s own infrastructure needs, there are a number of issues that need to be resolved relating to their own staff, as they pointed out on their own website recently:

  • schooling for around 600 children of various school ages: as of February 2018 at the latest, the new host city will need to share information about the available school places for the children of EMA staff members, taking into account linguistic and other needs. This will enable EMA parents who need to transition their children into the new host country’s school system to already do so as of the beginning of the school year 2018/2019, if they wish.
  • affordable, good quality housing for up to 900 new households: the new host city will need to provide information on the mix of affordable, good quality properties with good transport links to the new Agency building that can accommodate different staff needs, from single occupants to large families. EMA staff will need this information also as of February 2018, when they may start looking for accommodation.

You can read the official bid document of the Amsterdam bid here.

The video accompanying the Dutch bid attracted some coverage for its tongue in cheek referencing of fish & chips and much more.  You can see it below:

You can watch the EMA press briefing after the announcement was made that Amsterdam is to be the new host city of the European Medicines Agency.

(Video Source: European Medicines Agency)

The relocation of The European Medicines Agency will have a significant impact on the regulatory structure in Europe and we will keep you updated on issues relating to that on