EMA warns over staff retention, as employee survey reportedly names Amsterdam as top pick for headquarters 

The European Medicines Agency warned that it could lose more than 70 percent of its staff if the wrong location is chosen for its new headquarters. The regulator surveyed employees earlier this month, with 92 percent responding, but it declined to reveal the names of the 19 candidate cities. However, according to Politico, survey results pointed to Amsterdam as being the top choice of EMA staff. 

The EMA's poll found that only five of the candidate cities would be likely to see staff retention above 65 percent, with the possibility of keeping up to 81 percent of its workforce under a "best case scenario." However, eight of the candidate cities had retention rates ranging from 6 percent to 28 percent. The EMA suggested that a move to any of these places would likely make the agency "unable to operate" and create a "public health crisis," as well as force it to rely on third countries, such as the US and Japan, for drug approvals and imports.  

The regulator noted that a move to even the most popular locations would still necessitate a reduction in lower-priority activities, such as certain public health initiatives, with a full recovery of services occurring within two to three years. In contrast, the EMA said selecting any of the least popular cities could lead to "permanent damage" to the system.

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"The results of the survey emphasise the importance of the upcoming decision on the EMA's future seat, as the retention of skilled and experienced staff is crucial for the…continuity of operations," the agency explained. It added that "some staff losses can be absorbed with the EMA's business continuity plan, but beyond a critical threshold, the agency will no longer be able to fulfil its mandate to protect the health of European citizens." 

In August, the EMA unveiled a business continuity plan ahead of its relocation from the UK as part of the country's decision to exit the EU. Heads of EU countries will consider potential sites at a summit next month, with a final decision expected in November. 


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