Deadline looms for EMA host city bids

Today marks the deadline for bids to host the European Medicines Agency after Brexit, as various EU states aim to win a prize that could attract investment from pharma.

The UK government has already made clear that it expects to quit the European Medicines Agency as a result of Brexit to ensure its independence from the European Court of Justice, meaning that the agency will have to relocate its London headquarters in the coming years.

EU officials will decide the new host nation in a complicated voting system in November, and various cities have been bidding to host the regulator.

The EMA’s location is seen as a factor behind the UK’s successful life sciences and pharma industry since it began operating in London in 1995.

According to an analysis from the website Politico, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and Austria are among the most committed to winning the bid, and only the Czech Republic and Slovenia have dropped out of the race.

But with all the other member states still in the running, Politico noted that other countries such as Finland and Greece have yet to show their hand, while others have sent health ministers and delegations to Brussels to drum up support.

Last month the European Council set out a document outlining six criteria that will be used to judge bids.

Crucially the new EMA headquarters must be fully operational at the time the UK leaves the EU, with the necessary offices, meeting rooms, archiving and telecoms equipment.

The new host must be easily accessible by air with good public transport to airports, must be able to support education of the children of EMA staff, and have access to educational and career opportunities.

There must also be resources to support the transition, with a labour market rich enough to fill vacancies left by employees who decide not to move.

The council also wants different EU agencies to be spread around different member states, although this requirement is reportedly not as high a priority.

But this last rule could likely mean that the European Banking Authority, also due to move from London after Brexit, will end up in a different member state from the EMA.

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