EMEA Head Office Relocation – Speculations about Public health crisis and non-functionality of the organization

With Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union in March 2019, London-based body must leave UK post-Brexit, but staff survey suggested eight of 19 proposed sites were so unsuitable that move could create ‘public health crisis’. The result of the site selection for the new EMEA head office came out on 20th Nov 2017 and Amsterdam was selected as the new city to hold the organizations head office premises.  EU leaders discussed the competition for the EMA in October 2017, there was a “Eurovisionstyle” vote by ministers in November 2017. Each EU member state gave three votes for its first preference, two for the second and one for its third. Any bid securing three points from 14 or more-member states was to be declared as the winner, Amsterdam gained the maximum votes ranking as number one for most favorable place to change EMEA HQ.

Speculation was going around the choice of the new place for the headquarters of EMEA, there were a lot of concerns posted by the EMEA officials in regard to the shift, ranging from employee retention rate to financial aspects and operations over-all.

The 19 candidate sites for the change ranged from Dublin, Amsterdam and Stockholm, which were among the favorites, to Bucharest, Warsaw and Zagreb, which were regarded as outsiders. European medicine agency warned EMEA of ‘permanent damage’ from relocation to the overall health and medicine domain in Europe. There was a lot of contemplation going on regarding the move of the EME HQ following were the thoughts generated in regards of the down-side of the move.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) had warned that the damage caused by its relocation from London would at best take two years to fix and at worst lead to its complete breakdown and a major public health crisis for the continent. A report from the EMA suggested that such a “public health crisis” would mean “permanent damage” to the European system and that patients would be exposed to side-effects including “deaths [and] litigation”. Progress on a number of public health initiatives (eg support to initiatives on antimicrobial resistance and for the elderly, cooperation with health technology assessment bodies) will move at a slower pace and it would take two to three years for the agency to recover.

A survey by the EMA asked staff to give their thoughts on the 19 candidate cities that applied to host the health agency after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU in March 2019.The results revealed that, in the case of the eight least popular possible new locations, staff retention rates could be significantly lower than 30% and as low as 6% in the case of one of the unnamed cities.  Even the favourite – Amsterdam – would attract only 81 per cent of the agency’s 890 employees. Regardless of the new location, EMA anticipated staff loss and reduction in its operating capacity hence leading to a major deficit in its budget.

If operations are delayed or have to stop because of “massive” staff losses, the agency could experience a “dramatic drop” in fee income. This, in turn would result in lower payments to national regulators for the work they carry out in reviewing applications for new drug approvals. EMA official feared that such situation meant it could no longer operate, ensuring no new medicines could be authorized. The EU would have to rely on medicines imported and approved from companies and agencies in countries such as Japan and the US.

EMA officials had noted that Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Milan met agency requirements with those buildings only raising limited concerns, out of which Amsterdam was the most suitable and favorable in all terms.