Drottninggatan in Uppsala.

Tough competition prior to relocation of EMA after Brexit

“EMA would be a boost to Swedish biotech and drug development,” says Thomas Lönngren*, former Executive Director, EMA 2001-2010, in an interview about the Swedish candidacy for the European Medicines Agency. And that’s an opinion that the Swedish government shares, being one of the first EU members to announce its interest for hosting EMA after Brexit in 2019.

*The intervju with Thomas Lönngren

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU and crucial for the functioning of its single market for medicines. The agency is one of two that will be relocated in the context of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

As well as increased opportunities to attract investment from international pharmaceutical companies, EMA will bring considerable economic benefits to its new host country. The agency employs more than 900 people, paid by the EU, and around 40,000 experts attend meetings within the framework of EMA activities every year.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that a vast majority of EU member countries has expressed an interest in hosting the agency. After the deadline for application, 19 candidates will compete for the relocation. All are confident that their offer will be the best for the authority and provide a seamless transition. See them all here.

Among the arguments stressed in the Swedish application to convince other member states that Sweden and Stockholm is best suited to host the EMA, is the Swedish Medical Products Agency (MPA) in Uppsala. MPA is already one of the most active partners of the EMA, second only to the UK when it comes to contributions. The MPA is prepared to shoulder up to ten percent of the UK’s workload once the country exits the EU. Another argument is the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), already established in Stockholm. Close geographical proximity of the ECDC and EMA may contribute to synergy effects and facilitate the agencies’ collaboration for serious healthcare threats like anti-microbial resistance. Otherwise, as in all the other proposals, we must describe how we can fulfil the six criteria stipulated and decided by 27 EU leaders: the agency is operational when the UK leaves the EU; accessibility of the location; schools for the children of the agency staff; access to the labour market and healthcare for employees’ spouses and children; business continuity; geographical spread. Concerning the last two criteria, Sweden stresses that when it comes to an already existing agency, business continuity must be prioritised over geographical aspects. 

See the “EMAtoSweden Pitchfilm”

So what happens now? An assessment of the offers by the Commission based on the agreed criteria should be presented in September 2017 and the General Affairs Council will decide on the relocation of EMA in November 2017. Meanwhile, the Swedish EMA-secretariat and actors in the Stockholm – Uppsala life science cluster will continue to convince other EU countries that our application is the best. If you want to contribute – use #ematosweden

Annakarin Svenningsson_portrait

Annakarin Svenningsson
Director of Communication
Uppsala BIO

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