And the EMA goes to… Amsterdam!
During a General Affairs Council meeting on 20 November, the EU27 ministers decided on the new location of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA), with several voting rounds that took place behind closed doors in Brussels. The selected location of the EMA is Amsterdam, the Netherlands and the EBA is Paris, France.
During the first round of votes for the EMA relocation, three cities moved to the second round: Milan, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Milan received 25 points, Amsterdam 20 and Copenhagen 20. The second round of voting brought Amsterdam and Milan into the final round, which in turn ended up in a tie and a coin toss had to decide on the new location of the EMA as Amsterdam.
The initial criteria for the EMA relocations as agreed by the EU leaders were:
- the assurance that the agency is operational when the UK leaves the EU
- accessibility of the location
- schools for the children of the agency staff
- access to the labour market and health care for employees' spouses and children
- business continuity
- geographical spread
However, during the final stages of the negotiations, national governments have been promising quite a lot in exchange for votes behind closed doors — from support for the new Eurogroup presidency to NATO troops.
What is the EMA?
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) was founded in 1995, and is responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU. EMA is essential to the functioning of the single market for medicines in the EU. The main tasks of the EMA include among others:
- to facilitate development and access to medicines
- to evaluate applications for marketing authorisation
- to monitor the safety of medicines across their lifecycle
- to provide information to healthcare professionals and patients.
As a reaction to the relocation of these two agencies, the European Commission referred to it as “a direct consequence — and the first visible result — of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union”. Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said: “this is a bitter Brexit blow to UK science and our world-leading pharmaceutical sector”.