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EMA’s Amsterdam home will not be ready in time

Staff will initially move to a temporary building in the city after Brexit

Amsterdam

The European Medicines Agency’s relocation from the UK to the Netherlands is being complicated by a need to move into temporary accommodation in the first instance.

EMA executive director Guido Rasi said at a press conference yesterday that the agency’s final building in Amsterdam will not be ready for occupation by 30 March 2019 - the date the UK’s exit from the EU takes place - and staff will need to move initially to temporary premises in the city.

“This double transfer will force us to invest more resources,” said Rasi. “It will prolong our ‘business continuity planning’ mode, which means that it will take us longer to go back to normal operations, where we can again carry out important public health activities beyond those imposed on us by legislation.”

It has been estimated that it will be around nine months after Brexit before the final location in Zuidas will be ready - sometime in November 2019. The agency said earlier it hoped to be up and running in its new home by the end of March.

“This is not an optimal solution,” said Rasi. “We will only have half the space compared with our current premises in London …. and will also have to use external meeting facilities [although] we will at least be able to host our core scientific meetings in the temporary building.”

The new location for the EMA was the result of months of lobbying and deliberation by 19 EU cities, with Amsterdam eventually winning out - by lot - after a stalemate in the final round of voting by EU foreign ministers.

Towards the end of last year, Rasi warned that the move and preparing for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU “will occupy the time of many staff members that we would rather spend on activities that make a difference to public health” and will inevitably lead to refocusing of core tasks and adjournments for some initiatives. Notably, around 200 of EMA’s 900 staff in London have suggested they will not be staying with the agency after the transfer.

Of course, questions still remain about the role of the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after Brexit and the impact on regulatory approvals.

“Let us be clear, we are working against extremely tight deadlines,” said Rasi yesterday. “On 1 January 2019 we need a fully operational building in order to move our staff gradually from London to Amsterdam before 30 March 2019, when the UK withdraws from the EU. That means that even if these temporary premises are not ideal, they are the best option under the current time restrictions.”

Article by
Phil Taylor

30th January 2018

From: Regulatory

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