After months of discussion, a final vote has been cast on the European Medicines Agency (EMA)'s new home post-Brexit. And it's right around the corner from us, here in Amsterdam.
The last months have been filled with uncertainty regarding the move. Based in London, the EMA and the European Banking Authority had to secure themselves a new home after Brexit. By July 31st 2017 19 EU Member States had submitted their bid to become EMA's new host country.
Six criteria were published which the future host city had to meet, ranging from accessibility and adequate education facilities for children of EMA staff to what may have been the most important criterion: Continuity of EMA's work.
Some cities offered mountains, good weather or free language courses. Others argued that the EMA should move to Central or Eastern Europe in order to spread EU agencies geographically. The European Commission compared the bids but did not make a true assessment or express any preference. An EMA staff retention poll, however, gave away which cities had the staff's preference. This poll was especially indicative since its highly skilled staff is key to EMA's business continuity. Amsterdam scored very high.
The Dutch bid relied on alliteration to haul in the EMA to its country: It promised commitment, continuity, connectivity and community. It worked. The Netherlands was considered a good bet in safeguarding EMA's work. Find more details on the Dutch bid in our earlier Brexit blog post, here.
On Monday 20 November 2017, the 27 remaining EU Member States voted for EMA's new home after the UK leaves the EU. In a voting system not unlike the yearly Eurovision Song Contest, each EU Member State could initially issue 6 votes: 3 to its city of first choice, 2 to its second best and 1 to third choice. After the first round of votes, Milan was reportedly the runner up, followed by Amsterdam and Copenhagen. The last round of votes resulted in a draw between Amsterdam and Milan. Amsterdam finally won.
In a first reaction, the EMA Executive Director, Guido Rasi, noted "Amsterdam ticks many of our boxes. It offers excellent connectivity and a building that can be shaped according to our needs. I am very grateful that the Member States took into account our requirements for business continuity and gave priority to the protection of public and animal health." 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".
EMA's new office will be located in the Amsterdam business district ("Zuidas"), only minutes away from our Hogan Lovells Amsterdam office which recently also found its new home.