EMA Warns of Staffing Issues with HQ Change Post Brexit
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has released the results of a recent staff-retention survey regarding the relocation of the EMA, now headquartered in London, to another member state in the European Union (EU). The EMA will be relocating in the wake of the UK’s decision to exit the EU. The European Commission is considering bids from 19 cities in the EU to host the EMA and will later release that assessment.
The survey and assessment follow the release of the EMA’s business continuity plan, a tool that is intended to help the EMA take the decision to reallocate the available resources as needed to maintain its priority activities over the coming years. In July 2017, the European Council, an institution within the EU that defines the general political direction and priorities of the EU, reported that it received 19 offers from potential host cities of the EMA.
Offers to hold the EMA came from: Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Athens (Greece), Barcelona (Spain), Bonn (Germany), Bratislava (Slovakia), Brussels (Belgium), Bucharest (Romania), Copenhagen (Denmark), Dublin (Ireland), Helsinki (Finland), Lille (France), Milan (Italy), Porto (Portugal), Sofia (Bulgaria), The applications will be assessed on the basis of six criteria agreed to by the 27 EU member states: (1) guarantees that the agency will be operational when the UK leaves the EU; (2) accessibility of the location; (3) schools for the children of the staff; (4) access to the labor market and healthcare for the employees’ families; (5) business continuity; and (6) geographical spread.
The EMA’s staff-retention survey was launched in September 2017 after all candidate host cities were known, and the EMA staff had the opportunity to study the 19 member states’ bids. “The outcome that was shared with staff earlier this month revealed that for certain locations, staff retention rates could be significantly less than 30%,” the EMA said in a statement. “This would mean that the agency is no longer able to function and, as there is no backup, this would have important consequences for public health in the EU. In a best-case scenario, the EMA could keep up to 81% of its workforce,” EMA said.
In accordance with the current business continuity planning, four clusters of candidate cities have emerged. The first cluster includes those cities where 65% or more of EMA staff indicated that they are likely to move. In the second cluster are cities where staff retention would range between 50 and 64%. The third cluster includes those to which between 30 and 49% of staff are likely to relocate. In the last cluster are those cities where less than 30% of EMA staff said they would follow. Five candidate cities fell into group one and two while one city came under group three, and eight fell under group four.
“Since November 2016, the EMA carried out several staff surveys to help the agency prepare for staff losses and to improve planning for succession and knowledge transfer. Some staff losses can be absorbed with the EMA’s business continuity plan, but beyond a critical threshold the agency will no longer be able to fulfil its mandate to protect the health of European citizens,” the EMA said.