EMA says symbolic goodbye to London HQ as it sets up shop in Amsterdam

Europe’s medicines regulator, having been based in London since 1995, is gearing up for its move to Amsterdam as Westminster’s uncertainty regarding Brexit shows no signs of abating and drugmakers issue warnings about the disruption to drug supplies.

The decision to move the European drug watchdog was triggered by Britain’s 2016 decision to leave the EU. In November 2017, Amsterdam was chosen as the EMA’s new home by EU member states, which bode well for staff who reportedly in a survey put the city at the top of the list of places they would follow the agency to.

However, the EMA expects about 25% of its 900 employees to leave as it makes the move, the agency said in an announcement last week. “We are already conducting a massive programme for recruitment so that we can replace staff who might choose not to follow the Agency; we have received and screened over 5,000 applications for the various positions we have advertised,” a spokesperson for the regulator told Endpoints News.

EMA is set to leave its premises at London’s Canary Wharf on 1 March 2019. Last Friday, a private ceremony for staff was held to symbolically say goodbye to the office at the British capital.

From 4 to 8 March, the agency will operate on the basis of extended teleworking, it said. During this week a small number of staff will be present in the new temporary building, the Spark building in Amsterdam Sloterdijk, to deal with any potential emergencies. Between 11-15 March EMA staff will gradually move into the building.

“Whilst relocating…the focus will be on the authorisation, maintenance and supervision of medicines, ongoing Brexit preparedness/implementation activities and preparing for the implementation of the new veterinary legislation,” the spokesperson added. EMA’s new permanent headquarters, a tailor-made building in the Zuidas business district of Amsterdam, are planned for completion in November 2019, but from 4 March onwards it will be considered the agency’s official address.

Meanwhile, it looks like Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29, with or without a deal.

Image: EMA

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