The Netherlands announced on Thursday (20 April) Amsterdam’s candidacy for hosting the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is currently based in London.
In a letter to the European Council and the European Commission, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced his country’s intention to enter the race for the EMA’s relocation after the Brexit vote, claiming that the Amsterdam metropolitan area is the most suitable location.
State Secretary for Health, Welfare, and Sports Martin van Rijn stressed that the EMA’s vital work should not be disrupted, contending that the Netherlands offers all the facilities necessary for the agency to relocate quickly and efficiently.
“What’s more, its own Medicines Evaluation Board is one of the most prominent national medicines regulators in Europe,” van Rijn added.
Several member states have already expressed their interest in hosting the agency, including Sweden, Denmark, Italy, France, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Spain.
The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), the European Patients’ Forum (EPF) and EURORDIS-Rare Diseases Europe recently said that the imminent relocation of the EMA was of “great concern for patients and consumers across the EU” and urged the EU to make a decision “as soon as possible” to ensure minimal disruption and avoid delays regarding on pharmacovigilance and the assessment of new medicines.
In his letter, Rutte wrote that a move to the Netherlands would also enable the EMA’s staff to move easily and settle down quickly within an “internationally oriented society”.
Rutte emphasised that the European Council should decide on the EMA’s future “as swiftly as possible” once the EU executive has assessed the candidates “on the basis of objective criteria”.
“I would encourage the Commission to involve the EMA in determining these criteria,” he said. “The Netherlands stands ready to support a transparent, objective and swift decision-making process on the EMA’s relocation,” the Dutch premier added.
A European Commission spokesperson recently told EURACTIV.com that the decision on an agency’s seat is determined “by common agreement between the representatives of the member states meeting at Heads of State or Government level or by the Council”.
The 2012 Joint Statement and Common Approach on EU decentralised agencies, which was endorsed by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, sets out a number of criteria to be taken into account in order to contribute to the decision-making process for choosing an agency’s seat.
The accessibility of the location takes centre stage as well as the existence of adequate education facilities for children of staff members.