Close collaboration with new host country as of day one key for successful move
With less than two weeks to go before EU Member States select a new host city for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on 20 November 2017, the Agency prepares itself to immediately start working with the new host country. As of that date, the Agency has less than 17 months to conclude its move and take up its operations in the new host city by end of March 2019.
Moving a large organisation such as EMA to a new location is a challenging undertaking under any circumstances. It is made even more complex by the ambitious timetable determined by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) on 30 March 2019. Effective collaboration between EMA and the new host country on the basis of the commitments made in the offer to host EMA is essential for a successful move to a new location and EMA’s business continuity. By establishing an adequate joint governance structure to steer and oversee this challenging project, EMA and the new host country will kick-start their collaboration.
Because of its important role to safeguard public and animal health in the EU, EMA is committed to giving stakeholders and the public full visibility of the relocation project and will make publicly available in early December a monitoring chart that tracks the progress.
The most pressing issue that needs the immediate attention of EMA and the host country is the Agency’s new premises. Many administrative steps need to be taken before work on the new building can begin. For instance, EMA’s building plans need to be approved by local authorities, EMA’s Management Board and the EU budgetary authority. This process typically takes between six to eight months. Fit-out alone of a building that fulfils EMA’s requirements is expected to take between 12 to 15 months. Due to the tight timetable, EMA, together with the European institutions and the new host country will need to explore workable solutions to speed up the approval processes and allow work to be carried out in parallel, rather than in sequence.
Other aspects of the move that will need to be addressed include:
- schooling for around 600 children of various school ages: as of February 2018 at the latest, the new host city will need to share information about the available school places for the children of EMA staff members, taking into account linguistic and other needs. This will enable EMA parents who need to transition their children into the new host country’s school system to already do so as of the beginning of the school year 2018/2019, if they wish.
- affordable, good quality housing for up to 900 new households: the new host city will need to provide information on the mix of affordable, good quality properties with good transport links to the new Agency building that can accommodate different staff needs, from single occupants to large families. EMA staff will need this information also as of February 2018, when they may start looking for accommodation.