Helsinki loses out in race to host European Medicines Agency

Andrew Cummings
November 23, 2017

The relocation of these two agencies is a direct effect - and the first visible result - of the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union, as notified to the European Council on 29 March 2017.

Heads of state of the 27 European Union member governments voted Monday at the General Affairs Council to decide the EMA's new location.

The EMA - Europe's equivalent to the Food and Drug Administration - has been based in London since its inception in 1995 and now employs more than 900 people.

The smaller European Banking Authority (EBA), which has between 100 and 200 staff, enforces EU bank regulations, stress tests banks, and can overrule national bank regulators if they are found to be breaking European rules. He rejected, however, talk of "betrayal" among any allies who had promised Milan support before the secret ballot.

He added: "There is no doubt that the United Kingdom will be sad to see the EMA go, but we expect that the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency will continue to play a very significant role in the EMA's work, and in medicines regulation in the European Union generally, as it has always done". The Dutch Minister of Health, Bruno Bruins, also stressed the importance of business continuity, noting the relocation to Amsterdam meant "good news for all patients in Europe".

The EU outlined six criteria to judge the bids, including cities' ability to get the agency up and running on time, transport accessibility, school places and job opportunities for spouses. The best way to do this is by an early agreement to a transition timeframe and continued close regulatory cooperation. An EMA staff retention poll, however, gave away which cities had the staff's preference.

Maasikas called the contest "a sad reminder of the concrete consequences of Brexit".

Paris tied with Dublin in the third vote and the Estonian chairman of the meeting then picked the victor according to a pre-agreed procedure.

The EBA sets rules used by the European Central Bank to carry out stress tests of the banking sector in the bloc.

European Medicines Agency (EMA) staff could remain in London and work remotely for a "transitional" period following the Agency's move to Amsterdam, the EMA's executive director has said.

Despite fierce competition, the 27 EU states were keen to avoid any protracted and bruising dispute over the matter as they see preserving unity as essential in facing Brexit, the biggest setback in the post-World War Two history of European integration. "Organized and getting ready for Brexit", EU summit chair Donald Tusk tweeted ahead of the vote.

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