Amsterdam on Monday won out over 18 other competing cities to host the European Medicines Agency when it relocates from its London headquarters by the end of March 2019, when Britain is slated to exit the 28-nation bloc. "We welcome today's decision," remarked EMA executive director Guido Rasi, adding "now that we finally know where our journey is taking us, we can take concrete actions for a successful move."
Both Amsterdam and Milan made it through to the third and final round of voting, where they were tied at 13 votes, with the Dutch city eventually winning after lots were drawn. Milan and Amsterdam had made it through to the last round of polling after gaining 12 and nine votes, respectively, in the second round, which saw Copenhagen knocked out after receiving five votes. Milan had led the first round with 25 votes, while Amsterdam and Copenhagen each had 20 votes.
Rasi indicated that "Amsterdam ticks many of our boxes," as the city "offers excellent connectivity and a building that can be shaped according to our needs." He added "I am very grateful that the member states took into account our requirements for business continuity ." Rasi said "our internal surveys have shown that a large majority of EMA staff would be willing to move with the agency to Amsterdam," but he noted that "even in this case, our activities will be impacted and we need to plan for this now to avoid the creation of gaps in knowledge and expertise."
In September, the EMA warned  that it could lose more than 70 percent of its staff if the wrong location were chosen for its new headquarters. Specifically, staff survey results indicated that only five of the 19 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." The agency also published comments on its assessments of the hosting bids, revealing that Amsterdam, Barcelona, Vienna, Milan and Copenhagen were top choices in terms of staff retention.
Commenting on the EU vote, Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), suggested that attention should now shift "to how patient safety and effective public health can be maintained during this complex transition and into the future." He added that the UK and EU should make "securing a comprehensive agreement to cooperate on medicines safety, regulation and supply an urgent negotiating priority." UK officials previously indicated that they want the country to continue to cooperate with the EU concerning drug regulation following Brexit.
The EMA recently published  a tender notice valued at almost 32 million pounds ($42.3 million) to compensate temporary workers who will be needed to help offset staff losses associated with the move from London. Looking ahead, the EMA said it will now collaborate with the Netherlands to establish a joint governance structure to steer and oversee the relocation project, adding that it will also unveil a monitoring chart on the agency's website early next month to track progress.