The European Medicines Agency, which has been based in London since its establishment in 1995, will move to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The need to relocate is a consequence of the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union.

This decision was taken on 20 November 2017 by the EU 27 member states in the margins of the General Affairs Council (Art. 50). The European Medicines Agency (EMA)—which is responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision, and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU and is essential for the functioning of the single market for medicines in the EU—now has just over 16 months to prepare for the move and take up its operations in Amsterdam by 30 March 2019.

EMA Executive Director Guido Rasi said in a statement that the EMA welcomes the decision on the new location: “Now that we finally know where our journey is taking us, we can take concrete actions for a successful move.”

The EMA currently employs nearly 900 staff members at its headquarters in Canary Wharf, London. “Our internal surveys have shown that a large majority of EMA staff would be willing to move with the agency to Amsterdam,” Rasi said. “However, 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.”

Amsterdam was one of 19 offers to host EMA, submitted by the member states at the end of July 2017. The decision on EMA’s new location follows an assessment of the bids by the European Commission and EMA.

Moving forward

The Commission will now prepare legislative proposals reflecting the vote for adoption under the ordinary legislative procedure with the involvement of the European Parliament. The Council and the Commission said in a statement that they are committed to ensuring that these legislative proposals are processed as quickly as possible in view of the urgency of the matter.

“Effective collaboration between EMA and the Netherlands on the basis of the commitments made in its offer to host EMA is essential to ensure a successful move and the continuation of EMA’s operations with minimal disruption,”  EMA stated.

EMA and the Netherlands will kick start their collaboration by establishing a joint governance structure to steer and oversee the relocation project. Because of its important role to safeguard public and animal health in the EU, EMA is committed to giving stakeholders and the public full visibility of the relocation project. In early December, the EMA said it announced that it will make available a monitoring chart on its website that will allow to track the progress made.