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Relocation of the EU Medicines Agency: Italy

9 February 2017

Industries: Life Sciences and Healthcare
Jurisdictions: Italy

By Riccardo Fruscalzo

The EU Medicines Agency (EMA), the most sought after EU regulator, is looking for a new home. 900 jobs will move from London to an EU Member State when Brexit is complete. In a series of blog posts, our European life science and healthcare colleagues pitch their home country as the new location for the EMA. In our first post, Riccardo Fruscalzo, a Counsel based in our Milan offices, argues the case for Italy.

Why should the EMA relocate to Italy? Let's put aside clichés for a moment – we all know that the EMA officers would simply love the excellent food, the friendly atmosphere and the pleasant weather (much better than in London). Indeed, they would probably find that their entire stint in office is not long enough to discover all the beauties of our country! That goes without saying.

What most people – even Italians! – do not know is that the Italian pharmaceutical industry is a big Pharma player in Europe, not only in terms of its manufacturing abilities but also its professional skill. Italy is indeed the second largest manufacturer of medicinal products in Europe (Germany being the first), with approximately: 200 companies active in the field; 63,500 professionals employed in the industry; €2.6 billion of investment in 2015 (1.4 in R&S and 1.2 in manufacturing); and €30 billion of manufacturing (73% of which was exported). Making all this possible are the Italian scientists, who, according to the OECD, published the third greatest number of scientific articles per unit of GERD (gross domestic expenditure on R&D), behind UK and Canada.

The Italian government is taking the candidature of Milan as a possible venue for the EMA very seriously, working closely with the municipal and regional authorities. Milan is Italy's most important economic centre and is one of the main pharmaceutical districts in Europe. The city is ready to play this role – it has modern and well equipped headquarters, several universities, easy travel connections with the rest of Europe, and international schools and urban facilities that meet the highest European standards - as EXPO, the universal exposition hosted by Milan in 2015, has already demonstrated.

Besides, Italy is the only big European country, and founder of the European Union, that is not hosting any other important European institution in its territory, except for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Indeed, the potential synergies of EMA and EFSA (as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) are evident both in terms of quality of the service and reduction.