Bratislava Strong Candidate To Host EMA

The competition to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) enters the final phase as the European Commission is expected to complete this week an assessment of the offers received from cities to host it, writes Karine Iffour.

The Agency is to be relocated from London when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

The EMA is an agency with nearly 900 highly skilled and qualified staff tasked with the job of regulating human and animal health medicines sold across the Single Market of the European Union. The pharmaceutical industry coordinates its work with the Agency to ensure that products are safe and effective. 

It also works closely with the European Commission, giving advice on the licensing of drugs and monitoring the safety of products.

The contest in Europe to attract the agency has been intense, and there are 19 bids to host it, including Slovakia. Details of all offers are available on the website of the European Council. 

The General Affairs Council will discuss the Commission’s assessment at their meeting on 17th October, and a final decision will be taken by the EU 27 member states (excluding the UK) by secret ballot on 20th November with each member state having equal votes.

According to the procedure agreed by the Council, the offers will be assessed on the basis of six criteria:

• Guarantees that the agency will be operational when the UK leaves the EU

• Accessibility of the location

• Schools for the children of the staff

• Access to the labour market and health care for the employees & their families

• Business continuity

• Geographical spread

In the lobbying for the competition to win the Council’s decision, we believe that a preferred shortlist has been drawn up which includes Bratislava.

The Minister of Health of The Slovak Republic, Tomas Drucker, will appear before the General Council to present the very competitive Slovakian case. In short, the Bratislava bid to host the EMA lists 6 reasons why Bratislava should host the agency:

• Bratislava is a cost effective solution with custom built premises earmarked for the agency; it is a modern and efficient city to work in.

• A central location in the heart of Europe with excellent accessibility by international road, air and rail.

• Bratislava is a safe and secure city offering an excellent and affordable living environment with a high quality of life, education and labour market. The city has an open and welcoming economy; it has a strong, independent and open-minded civil society.

• Innovation in health and medical technologies have become main Slovakian priorities for research and development; Slovakian universities are accordingly geared to producing a pipeline of highly educated scientists.

• Slovakia has excellent European credentials; the country is a member of Schengen, and of the euro zone.

To this list I would add that the Slovakian economy enjoys a flourishing IT sector, with high speed internet and mobile across the country. According to the OECD, it is now one of the most economically dynamic and stable countries in Europe.

However it is the only Member State that joined the EU in 2004 which does not yet host any EU agency. Slovakia has strong credentials in respect of data protection and a free and fair market for competition in respect of pharmaceuticals, without any dominant position by drug developers meaning that there is truly a level playing field.

The time has come to reward the country with the relocation of the EMA to Bratislava, in line with the need to seek greater cohesion and solidarity across the EU.

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Karine Iffour

Karine Iffour

Karine Iffour is the Managing Director of the Consultancy EOS BXL in Brussels. Prior to joining EOS BXL, Iffour managed IEEE in Brussels, and has served as advisor to the Secretary General of Normapme, a Brussels-based business enterprise association with a focus on standards and certification and as Vice-Chair of the general assembly for the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). 

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