Dublin’s bid to host the EMA

Posted May 9, 2017

As a follow up to our blog last month on the EMA’s (European Medicines Agency) pending departure from London post BREXIT we are delving a bit deeper into the agency’s relocation.

The EMA is one of the world’s largest medicinal scientific assessment agencies and is key to the promotion and protection of public and animal health in the EU & EEA. The location of the EMA would have a significant positive impact on future investment in any host country’s Life Science sectors. One of the core roles of the EMA is the centralised process to issue Marketing authorisations for drugs which are valid for all EU and European Economic Area (EEA) (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) states. US and Asian pharma companies looking to gain access to the EU market would view proximity to the EMA offices as a strong advantage when setting up European businesses.

The agency employs almost 900 personnel and accounts for approx. 30,000 nights of hotel stays per annum which would ensure continued business in the host city.

Dublin has made a strong bid to host the EMA and most commentators place Dublin amongst the top five or six competitors.

Some of Dublin’s strengths are:

  • Ireland’s large export-orientated Biopharmaceutical industry, which already hosts the EU headquarters of several global Pharmaceutical companies
  • A world-class talent pool with a particular strength in the area of Life Sciences
  • Geographical distance to London making for a smoother transition
  • A world class building has been proposed to headquarter the EMA
  • The Irish Government is prepared to financially support the transfer
  • Ireland is the only English-speaking country in the Eurozone (the working language of the EMA)
  • Ireland’s national medicines agency, the HPRA, already provides significant support to the EMA and this can be rapidly scaled up in the event of relocation

Some of the areas where Dublin doesn’t compare as favourably however are in infrastructure, housing and cost of living. More information on the bid is available at: www.emadublin.ie

The process and timeline for deciding on the EMA relocation is:

  • Interested EU 27 member states made formal bids to the European Council on 31st July 2017.
  • On the 1st August 2017 the Council published the list of 19 cities who made formal bids.
  • The European Commission (the EU’s executive arm) will examine the bids taking into account criteria including accessibility for current employees, work opportunities for spouses, schools and housing and make its assessment to the Council by 30th September 2017. The Commission will also consider whether countries already host other EU agencies, in order to ensure fair distribution
  • The European Council of ministers will discuss the assessment in October 2017 and make a final decision by secret vote in October 2017

Each country has a total of six voting points to give to the candidate cities – three points for the first preference, two points for the second preference, and one point for the third. While they are allowed to vote for themselves they are also expected to take the commission’s assessments into account when voting for the others.

If any location gets three points from 14 or more members then it automatically wins – otherwise there is a second vote for the top three candidate cities with the most points, with each country only getting one vote each. Should there still be no clear winner, there will be a third and final round between the two final candidates.

While the process being undertaken by the Commission is clear and transparent, the councils secret ballot may be less straightforward and more complex with other political factors and criteria needing to be weighed up in the final decision taken by each country.

At LSC we would like to see the EMA move to the Irish capital. This would certainly cement the position of Ireland being a centre of excellence and one of the top European hubs for Pharma & Biotech. With an ever changing global environment it is critical for Ireland to continue to add new and exciting reasons to continue to attract and encourage growth in the Life Sciences industry.

For more updates on this and other Life Science related information watch out for our latest news.