EMA counts the cost of Brexit in lost staff and narrower workload

The EMA’s forced move from London to Amsterdam in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU results in the loss of almost 15% of its workforce – and Brexit continues to have an impact on its workload.

The EU regulator now has 775 staff, down from a little under 900 ahead of the move, and is still facing challenges in restarting its activities “following three years of relocation and Brexit preparedness planning.”

The staff numbers were revealed in the EMA’s latest management board meeting, which was hosted by the Netherlands government as the agency is still in the process of moving from a temporary facility to its permanent home in Amsterdam Zuidas, due to complete next month.

Around 25% of the agency’s staff opted not to make the move from London when the regulator closed down its activities there in January, so the latest headcount shows some progress is being made on the hiring front.

Nevertheless, it still means the EMA is still having too make some tough decision on its activities, focusing on a narrower set of activities than normal. At its last update, the agency said it has been prioritising critical regulatory areas such as the authorisation supervision of medicines as well as implementing new veterinary and medical device legislation.

“The agency will continue to monitor staff levels and review whether additional activities can be relaunched in June 2020,” says the EMA, which notes it is also in the midst of a review of the organisation to “make best use of available resources and be best prepared for future challenges.”

“This future-proofing exercise will help EMA to strengthen its ability to perform important new activities together with the European regulatory network and to tackle important challenges ahead such as big data, digitalisation and new scientific methods and technologies,” according to the update.

The board also approved the EMA’s budget for next year – which has been set at €358 million, up 3.3% on 2019 – and agreed a work programme for 2020 which will be published in the New Year.

Meanwhile, London’s loss is Amsterdam’s gain, with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) reporting recently that some 100 companies with operations in the UK have opened offices in the country to be nearer to the EMA. It reckons 3,500 jobs will be created as a result of the agency’s move over the next three years.

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