AMSTERDAM – Dutch authorities began on Tuesday to prepare the groundwork for the construction of a new building destined to house the European Medicines Agency once it relocates from London due to Brexit.
The EMA’s new home, which is expected to cost around 250 million euros ($293 million), is set to take root in Amsterdam’s rapidly developing Zuidas financial district, located to the south of the capital.
“We are talking about the economy of knowledge: there will be a high-quality company with high-quality employees for Zuidas and who knows what other business will follow suit. Now we must construct the building,” said the ambassador for Amsterdam’s candidacy to host the EMA, the former finance minister Wouter Bos.
The promise of a new building specially constructed for the EU regulatory body was one of the Netherland’s strong points in its bid for the EMA, which it won in a voting process at the General Affairs Council in Brussels on Tuesday evening, fending off strong competition from Copenhagen, Milan, and a host of other EU cities vying for the coveted Brexit spoils.
The Dutch government has pledged construction financing to the tune of 250-300 million euros in order to facilitate the agency, which will then have to pay market rates to rent the building.
It also tabled a relocation package for the roughly 900 EMA employees, strengthening an already lucrative bid to re-house the EMA given Zuidas’ ideal location just 10 minutes from Schipol international airport and Amsterdam’s wealth of well-established medical and scientific institutions.
The agency will join two other EU institutions already based in the Netherlands, Europol and Eurojust.
A survey of EMA staff before votes were cast in Brussels found that 81 percent of respondents preferred Amsterdam as a post-Brexit location.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte welcomed Amsterdam’s successful bid and highlighted the economy boost associated with hosting the EMA, which currently attracts around 36,000 international visitors from the pharmaceutical world to London annually.
The EMA is charged with regulating and standardizing medication for the EU market, serving some 500 million people across the bloc. It also regulates veterinary medicine.
The agency will depart London once Brexit has officially come into force on March 29, 2019, as will the European Banking Authority, which is headed to Paris.