After months of speculation, the EMA has been committed to take up operations at a site in Amsterdam by 30th March 2019.

The decision was reached by vote from the EU 27 Member States.

EMA to move to Amsterdam

How should your organisation prepare?

A decision has been made – and that is good news for a Pharmaceutical industry threatened by increasing uncertainty in the face of a potential no-deal Brexit. However, the EMA has been based in London since 1995, employing nearly 900 staff members at its headquarters in Canary Wharf, and disruption is to be expected.

As the EMA’s Executive Director has said; “Our internal surveys have shown that a large majority of EMA staff would be willing to move with the Agency to Amsterdam. However even in this case, our activities will be impacted and we need to plan for this now to avoid the creation of gaps in knowledge and expertise.”

The EMA has already warned that would at best take two years to fix and at worst lead to its complete breakdown and a major public health crisis for all of Europe. So, which scenario is looking most likely right now, and how can your organisation prepare?

Prepare for disruption

It’s unclear how businesses could prepare for a complete failure of EMA operations. But, businesses can make plans for the less extreme outcomes of the EMA’s impending move. Organisations should plan for:

– Setup disruption

The official line is that operations in Amsterdam will commence “30th March 2019 at the latest”, giving the EMA just over 16 months to prepare. However, the EMA themselves have estimated that; “Fit-out alone of a building that fulfils EMA’s requirements is expected to take between 12 to 15 months.”

With so short a time frame, businesses should prepare for a short to long-term delays of EMA-dependent activities in the case that their move to Amsterdam does not go smoothly.

– Delays of non-priority tasks

Assuming the agency is unable to retain all of their staff when they move to Amsterdam, it’s possible they will face significant staff shortages. In this case, the EMA’s Brexit preparedness Business Continuation Plan will be triggered, prioritising their activities in the order they have categorised them.

Organisations who have yet to do so should review this plan, and prepare for delays if activities that affect them are lower on the priority list.

More certainty than a coin toss

In the end, the Amsterdam vote effectively came down to a “coin toss“. On the flip side, the future of the EMA itself is not so uncertain.

With the EMA’s move now decided and scheduled, there is reason to be optimistic. For now, organisations need to keep tabs (and bookmarks) on the EMA’s news page, and anticipate news of delays with Business Continuity Plans of their own.

At Kinapse, we’re making preparations of our own. On Thursday 23rd November, we’re hosting a Brexit Summit to discuss with leading experts from around the industry. We will send the outcomes of our Summit to the UK government, and share them publicly in due course.

If your Life Sciences organisation has any questions or hesitations about your post-Brexit future, please get in touch.

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