EU Parliament to send delegation to Amsterdam on EMA fact-finding mission

Written by Martin Banks on 9 February 2018 in News

The European Parliament will send a fact-finding mission to Amsterdam, the disputed new site of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

European Medicines Agency | Photo credit: Press Association

The EMA, which is currently based in London, will be relocated after Brexit and Amsterdam won a fiercely contested bid to house the agency.

The Parliament delegation will be led by the rapporteur on the relocation, Giovanni La Via, an Italian group EPP member.

It will visit the temporary location and the future headquarters for the EMA next week.


MEPs say they want to obtain up-to-date information on the state of play of the double transfer process and ascertain that it is proceeding “as planned and with no interruption”.

Their findings will provide input to the discussion on the relocation legislative proposal in the environment committee.

The legislative file on the relocation is to be put to a vote in the committee on 12 March and in plenary session the same week.

Along with the European Banking Authority (EBA), the EMA is one of two EU agencies currently based in the UK that need to be relocated in the context of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The European Medicines Agency is responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU.

However, the choice of Amsterdam for its new home has incensed Italy, which proposed Milan.

Italian MEPs are now making once last bid to stop the EMA from moving to Amsterdam.

Three MEPs - Paolo De Castro, Patrizia Toia and Elisabetta Gardini - have decided to challenge the decision, using the Parliament’s power to change any element of ordinary legislation it is sent.

They argue Amsterdam does not even have the necessary requirements to host the EMA within the set deadlines of March 2019. 

Milan, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna and Barcelona were all in the running for the EMA.

Milan won the first of three rounds with 25 points with Amsterdam and Copenhagen joint second.

Once the losers had been removed their votes went to the finalists and the Italian and Dutch cities were joint winners.

The ultimate defeat for Milan meant they missed out on the 900-staff agency and around 36,000 visitors each year, which would have created a windfall for restaurants and hotels.

Carlo Corazza, spokesperson for Parliament President Antonio Tajani, warned the Italy bid might not be that easy. 

He said, “Theoretically, it is possible to change the location, but I don’t think that will happen.” 

Last month, Giuseppe Sala, the mayor of Milan, said that Italy would lodge an appeal against the decision to relocate the EMA to Amsterdam.

Sala said he spoke to Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and told him this was the moment to be “aggressive.”

“This situation risks becoming a bit ridiculous: first they invent this [procedure of drawing] lots, and then the Dutch start saying they are not ready, then they are giving a venue that is only half [of the current space of the agency],” Sala said. “It’s not a good moment for Europe.”

The Italian government’s move was sparked by the EMA Executive Director Guido Rasi, who said that the temporary building to host the agency in Amsterdam until the permanent one is ready is “not optimal.”

Sala acknowledged that the chances of overturning the decision to send the EMA to Amsterdam were “not very high, but we need to try it.” The appeal, which is expected to be sent to the European Court of Justice, is both a technical and a political issue, Sala said

A Commission spokesperson said it had made the choice in order “to provide legal certainty and clarity, ensuring that both agencies can continue to function smoothly and without disruption beyond March 2019.”

The EMA began operating in London in 1995 and employs about 900 staff.


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine


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