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Relocation of the EU Medicines Agency - The Netherlands: Tulips & EMA, a Gouda combination

1 March 2017

Industries: Life Sciences and Healthcare
Jurisdictions: The Netherlands

By Silvia Gardini and Hein Van den Bos

The EMA is looking for a new home. According to the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports' formal bid, this home is where the heart of the Netherlands is. It might not have the food, weather or mountains Italy has to offer, as argued by our colleague Riccardo Fruscalzo in his blog post. Actually it has no mountains. But, here are five reasons why the Netherlands should be the EMA's host country of choice. 

First is our shared values. We are not just talking about the shared appreciation for fried pub food. The move aligns with the top sector policy of the Dutch government. By formalising the bid, the Ministers have illustrated that they take their Life Sciences' policy seriously. During its EU presidency in 2016, the Netherlands emphasised the importance of the availability and affordability of medicines, subsequently putting it high on the agenda. If the EMA moves to the Netherlands, it can be sure of a welcome from a government with aligned priorities.

Secondly is the rapport between the Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB) and the EMA. Currently, the MEB makes a key contribution to the European medicines network supervised by the EMA. In 2015, the Netherlands provided more rapporteurs for the EMA's Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) than any other EU Member State and ranked third in providing rapporteurs for the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP). Safeguarding the continuity of the EMA's work after Brexit is key. The EMA can therefore rely on an experienced and involved MEB to help minimise the interruption to its work and loss of productivity during the move from London.

Thirdly, the Netherlands has a robust medical infrastructure and a vibrant Life Sciences sector. There is a depth of local knowledge and experience in the field to draw from. The Netherlands is also a major player in the European biotechnology market. OECD figures rank the Netherlands 2nd in patent applications for biotechnology. Further, the sector invests over 2 billion euros per year in R&D in the Netherlands.

Fourthly, moving to the Netherlands would mean as swift and smooth a relocation for the EMA's employees. Not much has to change in their everyday lives: When they walk out the door they will experience similar great weather as in London. They will be able to continue to speak English and be understood by most locals. Current ties with London can be maintained since it is less than an hour's flight away ? especially convenient for the homesick.

Fifthly is the Netherlands' deep experience as a host to international organisations. It is centrally located within Europe, has good infrastructure and has excellent international accessibility. The Netherlands is a highly regarded host country due to its well-developed services such as housing, health care and international schools. It ranks eighth worldwide in terms of quality of life. These aspects enable the Minister to guarantee a smooth relocation to the Netherlands. While it is host to multiple international organisations, it currently only hosts two European agencies. Consequently, moving to the Netherlands would also help satisfy the EU's desire to spread its European agencies.

The Netherlands is waiting on the porch. Ready to give the EMA a warm welcome with the finest red tulips it could find. And cheese ? lots of cheese.

In case you missed our blog post on Italy you can access it here.