iSpeak Blog

Amsterdam Awarded EMA Headquarters

Scott Fotheringham, PhD

EU Agency Relocations 2017The European Commission has chosen Amsterdam as the new host of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) headquarters. The city was awarded the coveted prize after it won a coin toss with Milan, which received the same number of votes after three rounds of voting by the 27 European Union (EU) foreign ministers.

The EMA must relocate from its current headquarters in London because the United Kingdom has announced it will leave the EU by early 2019. Today’s decision came after a flurry of activity, with some countries—Ireland among them—withdrawing from consideration prior to the vote, ostensibly to focus on its bid to host the European Banking Agency, which was awarded to Paris today.

“Congratulations to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on their successful bid,” said Mike Thompson, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Chief Executive, in an ABPI press release. “Hosting the EMA is a singular honor for any city, and we will do all we can to support the agency’s smooth transition to its new home … [T]oday's decision marks the moment when attention should switch to how patient safety and effective public health can be maintained during this complex transition and into the future.”

Amsterdam met all the criteria for a host city, including that the regulatory agency be up and running by March 2019. It is near an airport that can be reached conveniently throughout Europe, has adequate office space, and can offer multilingual education services to the children of its staff. Another consideration was that a poll of EMA staff showed that 65% were willing to relocate to Amsterdam. The benefits to the Dutch capital cannot be overstated. The city will see an influx of 900 permanent EMA jobs, hotel and conference center use devoted to meetings of seven agency scientific committees and advisory groups, as well as the possible relocation of some regional and international pharmaceutical company regulatory activity. All told, the move is expected to provide an economic windfall of more than $1 billion.