European Medicines Agency will relocate to Amsterdam

On 20 November 2017, in a hotly contested vote, the General Affairs Council decided that the EMA, which has been based in London since its creation in 1995, will relocate to Amsterdam on 30 March 2019.  Out of the 18 other candidate cities, other close runners were Milan, Copenhagen and Bratislava, but perhaps the fact that Amsterdam indicated in their bid video (available for viewing here) that they were ‘not that different’ and enjoyed ‘fish and chips’ was a deciding factor!

The Executive Director of the EMA stated that there was ‘excellent connectivity’ and ‘a building that can be shaped according to our needs’.  In addition, an earlier staff retention survey conducted on EMA staff showed that a large majority (approximately 65%) would be willing to move with the Agency to Amsterdam. It is important that the EMA does not lose too many staff as if staffing falls below a certain threshold, the EMA will be less able to undertake its critical role.

After publication of its Business Continuity Plan (BCP) (see our publication on this here), it is clear that the EMA aims to comply with its strategic objectives and if necessary invoke the continuity plan.  This would involve the EMA decreasing certain activities depending on the priority levels to reduce the impact on public health. 

It is clearly important that there are arrangements in place to deal with the transition to ensure that the Agency can function effectively and ensure that it has the time to manage the relocation in addition to safeguarding the health of the public.  Disruption of the relocation cannot be avoided.  However, the EMA and the Netherlands have said they will establish a joint governance structure to steer and oversee the relocation project and this will be subject to tight timelines with the relocation to be complete by 30 March 2019.

In our next note, we will look at the impact of the EMA’s move on the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Contact our experts for further advice

Catherine Penny, Hannah Lunn

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