Brexit: Relocation of the European Medicines Agency

The triggering of Article 50 has caused the thoughts of many to turn to the issue of the relocation of the European Medicines Agency.  In this blog update we look at the countries that have joined the race to host the agency and those that are well advanced in their attempts to bring the EMA to their country.

There now appears to be 22 member states of the European Union in contention to host the European Medicines Agency.  Countries such as Belgium, Finland, Romania and Malta have joined the fray in recent days and have begun to set out their case to host the agency.  We have written extensively about the main contenders in previous blogs.  The competition to ‘land’ the EMA has been described as one of the most fiercely fought battles of the Brexit process.

Relocation of the European Medicines Agency will, of course, be a hard fought competition.  However, there has been little attention paid to the plight of the 885 staff members at the agency that will be impacted by the upheaval.  In the Science Business article (linked to above) there is a reference to the EMA’s internal report that shows that up to 50% of staff members may choose not to relocate with the agency.  Such a personnel change would put a significant strain on the organisation and would , surely, impact on the services provided.  In that instance, it is practical to believe that the EMA will bi-locate, for as long as is legally and practically possible, in order to get up and running at a new location.

Recent Bids

Malta has officially launched its campaign to woo the European Medicines Agency.  Speaking at a press conference to launch the bid, Malta’s Health Minister Chris Fearne highlighted the country’s free healthcare system, availability of talent and the fact that the country is English speaking.  You can watch a report on their bid and the subsequent press conference below.

Romania has also entered the fray with a bid to host the agency. Representatives for the country, which joined the EU in 2007, believe that the fact that Romania does not currently host any other EU agencies might work in its favour.  “We are bidding for the agency’s move to Romania. It’s going to be a tough race but we’re prepared for that. The government just approved a memorandum in this sense,” said EU Affairs Minister Ana Birchall after the bid was announced at a cabinet meeting.

The Netherlands has also emerged as a likely location in the battle for the relocation of the European Medicines Agency.  The country has a track record of hosting other EU bodies and the Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB) is regarded highly across Europe.  The benefits of The Netherlands are highlighted in this light-hearted blog on legal site Lexology.

Ireland continues to work on securing the relocation of the European Medicines Agency to Dublin.  The Irish bid, is regarded by many, as being in serious contention and its taskforce continues to highlight the benefits of bringing the agency to Dublin.



It is believed that the decision regarding the agency’s future will be made as early as June 2017.  We believe that there are no more than five ‘serious contenders’.  We have highlighted these in a recent 60 second video that gives an overview.

We produce a quarterly Brexit whitepaper on issues relating to regulatory affairs and Brexit.  Our next whitepaper will contain the results of our exclusive Brexit survey that will show the preferred location for the EMA of over 200 regulatory affairs professionals.  You can sign up to receive an advance copy of the whitepaper below.