Portugal has stepped forward to house the European Medicines Agency (EMA) currently located in London, once Brexit becomes a reality. “Portugal has technical, scientific and regulatory conditions to receive the Agency" said recently the Portuguese Health Minister Adalberto Campos Fernandes during a visit to the EMA’s headquarters in London.
The Minister highlighted the merits of Lisbon promising the national commitment to a rapid transition that would minimize the impact on the regular activities of the EMA. “This is a logistics operation of many thousands of people. What the Agency wants is a good building, with good conditions and space to work. This is the easiest to do. But in 30 days people have to be accommodated, the kids ' school must be set and the employability for spouses/partners. There has to be a package of integration, to make life easier.”
The Minister considered that “the climate, the cost of accommodation, the existence of international schools and infrastructures in Portugal are strong arguments”, believing that it will not be easy to find equivalent conditions in other cities, namely the combination of life quality and cost of living itself, such as Lisbon provides. Other strong advantages of Lisbon are its hotel capacity, cosmopolitan culture and overall safety.
The importance of being EMA
The EMA acts as the regulatory agency deciding if pharmaceutical products are safe for the European single market as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area. Set up in 1995, EMA employs about 900 highly skilled staff, making it one of the biggest EU agencies. With its annual budget of €300 million and some 65,000 visitors to more than 500 international meetings every year it is expected that the relocation of EMA brings a positive effect for any country’s medical and pharmaceutical industry. The decision on where to move EMA is a political one and will be made by the European Council, presumably until 2019.
A very lively competition for the EMA relocation after Brexit is already in place. Other countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Austria, Denmark and Spain are preparing to make formal bids for the EMA. In addition to Portugal, according to the information known, for over 13 countries that have also publicly expressed their interest in hosting the headquarters of the EMA. The Portuguese Minister, however, is optimistic: “Portugal and the Portuguese have come to give evidence of their resistance, resilience and competence”.