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Relocation of the EU Medicines Agency – Germany

8 May 2017

Industries: Life Sciences and Healthcare
Jurisdictions: Germany

By Dr. Tanja Eisenblaetter

"EMA" and "gErMAny" – far more in common than mere letters

The European Medicines Agency (the "EMA"/"Agency") has reached celebrity-style status in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, and is being wooed by most European countries.  Whilst there are plausible arguments for a relocation of the EMA to any one of those wonderful European countries with delicious food, I wish – all prejudices against German food aside and I won’t mention Bratwurst – to point out some germane facts. gErMAny's bond with the EMA is already close – and not merely because it is in our name.  Each of the letters we share actually stands for a compelling reason for the Agency to relocate to Germany:

"E" for "Expertise"

Germany’s expertise is important to the EMA in two respects:

On one hand, there is a wealth of deep-seated life science expertise in Germany waiting to embrace the EMA. Several leading global life science research institutions are located in Germany, all eager to enter into productive dialogues with the EMA.  To name a few, the Charité and the Robert-Koch-Institut both in Berlin, the Universitätsklinikum Eppendorf in Hamburg, and the many other highly renowned university hospitals and life-science institutions in Frankfurt and Munich.  Not to be overlooked is the expertise of the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices: Located in Bonn, it is one of the largest and most influential national medical regulators – employing an impressive number of over 1,100 individuals, all dedicated to the improvement of the safety of medical products/medicines.  Are those convincing enough synergies? If not, then consider that Germany turns into a hub of discussions about health topics and cutting-edge medical research annually, when it hosts the World Health Summit in Berlin every autumn.

On the other hand, a substantial percentage (12.5 %) of the EMA's expert employees is actually German.  There would be no difficulties in adapting to a new language or culture thereby greatly enhancing the ease of transition.

"M" for "multiple locations"

Germany offers a wide range of potential locations for the EMA’s seat. With sixteen decentralised federal states, the EMA would be spoilt for choice when it comes down to choosing a location for the agency's headquarters. The best of it is that cities from all corners of this country have already expressed strong interest in being the Agency’s new location:  EMA officials can choose from the harbour city of Hamburg, the vibrant and multicultural capital Berlin, the financial-centre Frankfurt, the friendly former capital Bonn (seat of the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices) or the close to the alps Oktoberfest-host city of Munich.  All of these cities are excelling themselves in competing to woo the EMA and – above all – to offer optimal working conditions.

"A" for "attractive infrastructure"

Last but by no means least: It is convenient to travel both to Germany and within it.  Being located in the centre of Europe, flight and train times to all other European capitals are short if not relatively quick.  The Agency's 'former' location in London is only an hour's flight away.  Internally, Germany boasts an efficient and smooth train network (well, most of the time), numerous domestic flight connections and, of course, its autobahns.

But it is not only the transport infrastructure – Germany has an extremely well established and thriving pharmaceutical industry providing further excellent professional infrastructure. There are numerous world-renowned pharmaceutical enterprises here, especially in the vicinity of many of our major cities, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt.  By moving to Germany, the EMA would find clients on its doorstep.

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All in all, there are prominent reasons why gErMAny would be an ideal location for the EMA's future seat.  However, with tears in my eyes, I look back to the good old pre-Brexit days when a decision to relocate the EMA wasn’t necessary.