Dublin has missed out in the race to become the new home for the European Medicines Agency post-Brexit.
In a nail-biting finale, Amsterdam was chosen as the location to host the agency.
The decision, which was welcomed by EMA boss Guido Rasi, will mitigate concerns over disruption due to staff loses. As well as being scored highly by current EMA staff, Amsterdam was judged by the agency to be a highly suitable candidate.
“Amsterdam ticks many of our boxes,” said Professor Rasi. “It offers excellent connectivity and a building that can be shaped according to our needs. I am very grateful that the member states took into account our requirements for business continuity and gave priority to the protection of public and animal health.”
The Irish Government had lobbied hard with Minister for Health Simon Harris making a number of keynote speeches claiming that Dublin was the perfect new home for the European Medicines Agency.
As part of its offer, the Irish Government has undertaken to contract the services of relocation experts to assist EMA staff and their families to transition from London to Dublin.
Three buildings have been identified from which the EMA may select its preferred option for a new headquarters.
Conscious of the significant costs which Brexit will incur for the EMA and the European Commission, Ireland had committed to providing a substantial financial contribution over the next decade.
The Irish Government had said it would make a total contribution of €78m over a ten-year period toward the expenses related to a new premises.
Key to the Irish offer was the whole-of-government commitment to ensuring that the EMA can relocate to its new home and carry out its functions from day one.
The EMA, which is fully funded by the EU, has an annual budget of about 300 million euros ($350 million). The agency employs just short of 900 full-time staff and attracts 36,000 experts for scientific meetings every year.
There had been speculation that the EMA would go to an eastern European member state, in order to more evenly distribute Europe’s prized agencies. In the end, while Bratislava was an early front-runner, it failed to make it through the first round of voting. The other major European agency up for grabs, the European Banking Agency, went to Paris.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) urged lawmakers to turn attention to securing a beneficial trade deal before the UK leaves the EU, currently set for March 2019.
ABPI chief executive Mike Thompson said: “We now urge both the UK and the EU to put patients first and acknowledge that securing a comprehensive agreement to cooperate on medicines safety, regulation and supply is an urgent negotiating priority.”
The European pharmaceutical industry reacted with a similar message.
European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) director general Nathalie Moll said: “The location of the EMA is just one of a number of critical medicine issues relating to Brexit where action is needed to protect patient safety and public health.”
“Securing transitional arrangements and long-term cooperation on medicines regulation between the UK and EU is the best way of ensuring that patients across Europe continue to have access to safe and effective medicines.”