A help desk has been established at the London headquarters of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to support staff relocating to its new headquarters in Amsterdam.
The desk, which opened on 8 December, has been set up by the Dutch authorities behind the successful relocation bid — which includes the government and Amsterdam city council — in an attempt to make the transition from London to the Netherlands as seamless as possible.
Details of the desk were revealed by the government of the Netherlands in a statement.
It said: “The help desk is part of the Dutch pledge to make the relocation of EMA and its staff as smooth as possible.
“In London, the help desk will organise information sessions on living in the Netherlands, housing and education. The first information sessions will take place […] before the end of the year.”
The desk can tackle staff’s general questions about relocating on issues such as medical care, partner relocation, education and residence permits.
From February the service will be expanded to provide one-on-one sessions with EMA staff, with the aim of creating tailored support, the government said.
The EMA said on 12 December that it was still working on producing a monitoring chart, originally promised to be available early December, which it intends to publicise on its website to track relocation progress. It was unable to say when the chart would be ready.
The European Council announced in November that Amsterdam was its choice to host the EMA after the UK leaves the European Union (EU) in March 2019.
The EMA will move from Canary Wharf to new purpose-built offices in the heart of Amsterdam’s business quarter.
The city was the first choice of the EMA’s 900 staff from the 19 shortlisted destinations, according to the results of an employee survey.
Plans for the move start to take shape at the same time as the Netherlands’ government is pushing ahead with its promise to invest an extra €2m to increase the capacity of its medicines safety watchdog the Dutch Medicines Board, ahead of Brexit.
It has also pledged another €8m to develop expertise and IT co-operation between EU national medicines agencies. The money will help fund an in-depth training programme for boosting the assessment capacity within those EU states and help fill the gap created by the UK leaving the EMA.