Cities compete to host EMA

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has assessed the bids of 19 cities that have applied to host its headquarters following the UK’s exit from the European Union in 2019. The final relocation decision will be made by the European Council on 20 November 2017.

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The EMA in London

In its first two decades, the EMA recommended the authorisation of a total of 975 human and 188 veterinary medicines. The EMA has almost 900 staff and hosts 36,000 experts for scientific meetings every year. Its total revenue in 2016 was €305,099m.

Assessment of candidate cities and proposed premises

Key for technical requirements:

Layout:  space for offices, meeting rooms and archiving facilities

Facilities:  IT, security and conference facilities

Relocation plan:  proposed timeframe, governance and necessary adaptation work

Candidate cities:

The top candidates

Cities that meet technical requirements Cities that meet other requirements Cities that meet all requirements 
Amsterdam Amsterdam  Amsterdam 
Barcelona Barcelona Barcelona 
Bratislava Bonn Brussels 
Brussels Brussels Copenhagen 
Copenhagen Copenhagen Dublin (Dublin Airport site) 
Dublin (Dublin Airport site) DublinMilan 
Milan Milan   

Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Athens, Greece


Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is one of six cities that meets all of the EMA requirements. But will the October 2017 referendum on Catalan independence from Spain affect the city’s bid?


Bonn, Germany


Bratislava, Slovakia

In addition to meeting the requirements for the premises, Bratislava points out that it should be given priority according to the agreed principle of geographic spread for HQs of EU agencies as it is one of the few EU member states that does not yet host an EU-level agency. However, the city is poorly accessible and an EMA staff survey suggests that fewer than 30% would relocate.


Brussels, Belgium


Bucharest, Romania


Copenhagen, Denmark


Dublin, Ireland

Dublin is proposing three sites for the EMA, only one of which will be ready in time and meets the agency’s technical requirements. However, the city scores high on accessibility, education facilities, and employment and medical care, and at least 65% of staff have indicated they would remain.


Helsinki, Finland


Lille, France


Milan, Italy


Porto, Portugal


Sofia, Bulgaria


No image of the site was provided in the bid presentation.


Stockholm, Sweden

Despite meeting the requirements for accessibility, education facilities, and employment and medical care, Stockholm fails to meet any of the EMA’s technical requirements. The proposed premises will not be ready until Q3 2020, and IT, security and conference facilities have not been addressed in its bid.


Valletta, Malta


Vienna, Austria


Warsaw, Poland


Zagreb, Croatia


Other requirements

In addition to assessing the candidate cities on their technical ability to host the EMA, the agency assessed them on other requirements, such as accessibility, education facilities, and access to the labour market, social security and healthcare. It also rated the cities on the proportion of current EMA staff that could be expected to stay, based on a staff survey.


Sources: EMA annual report 2016; EMA assessment of member states’ bids; candidates’ bids. Images taken from candidates’ bids. Infographic: MAG

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, October 2017, Vol 299, No 7906;299(7906):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203776

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