EMA Reveals Its Relocation Wish List as European Commission Vote Nears

The Center for Biosimilars Staff

After having warned that it could lose up to 94% of its staff in a relocation from its current home in London, United Kingdom, The European Medicines Agency (EMA) this week revealed its top location choices for the agency’s upcoming move.

After having warned that it could lose up to 94% of its staff in a relocation from its current home in London, United Kingdom, The European Medicines Agency (EMA) this week revealed its top location choices for the agency’s upcoming move.

The EMA rated each of the cities proposing to host the agency in terms of technical requirements (including building layouts and relocation planning), additional criteria (including accessibility of each location, resources for families of staffers, and business continuity), and the likelihood of retaining the most personnel. Vying for the EMA are Amsterdam, Netherlands; Athens, Greece; Barcelona, Spain; Bonn, Germany; Bratislava, Slovakia; Brussels, Belgium; Bucharest, Romania; Copenhagen, Denmark; Dublin, Ireland; Helsinki, Finland; Lille, France; Malta; Milan, Italy; Porto, Portugal; Sofia, Bulgaria; Stockholm, Sweden; Vienna, Austria; Warsaw, Poland; and Zagreb, Croatia.

The cities that earned top marks for meeting the EMA's technical requirements were the following:

  • Amsterdam
  • Barcelona
  • Bratislava
  • Brussels
  • Copenhagen
  • Milan

Each of the above cities met some of the agency’s requirements, though the EMA had concerns about timely operation at each of the locations. Sofia and Malta earned the lowest ratings in this category.

In terms of its additional criteria, the EMA gave Vienna top marks, with Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Milan also ranked highly.

The cities in which the EMA was likely to retain 65% or more of its staff, based on feedback from its workers, were the following:

  • Amsterdam
  • Barcelona
  • Copenhagen
  • Milan
  • Vienna

The cities where the agency could expect to retain less than 30% of its staff were the following:

  • Athens
  • Bratislava
  • Bucharest
  • Helsinki
  • Malta
  • Sofia
  • Warsaw
  • Zagreb

While the EMA rated Barcelona highly in each of its categories, political unrest in Catalonia could take a toll on the city’s ability to secure the regulatory body's presence. Last week’s vote on independence for the Catalonia region was met with a show of Spanish police force that left hundreds of civilians injured. On Friday, Spain’s government began to ease restrictions on businesses seeking to leave Barcelona and other Catalonian areas in order to remain in the Eurozone in the event of a Catalonian secession; should Catalonia become an independent nation, it would not automatically retain membership in the European Union, and Barcelona could become just as untenable a long-term home for the EMA as London was.

The EMA has provided its report to the European Commission, which will determine the agency’s new location in a vote held next month.