The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is coming to Amsterdam. The Dutch bid won a draw from Milan, the only remaining candidate after three rounds. The EMA is now in London but has to leave because of Brexit in early 2019.

The choice for Amsterdam was the outcome of a complicated secret voting procedure, which was followed by the foreign ministers from all 27 European member states - without the United Kingdom.

In the first round, ministers were allowed to divide six points among the sixteen candidates via a 'Eurovision-like' system. Milan got the most votes and went on to the second round, just like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. That last city fell in the second vote. In the third and decisive round, Amsterdam and Milan got equal votes. The protocol prescribed that it would then be necessary to draw.

Nineteen candidates

A total of sixteen EU cities were candidates. Initially, there were nineteen, but last week Malta, Croatia, and Ireland withdrew their entries. The remaining candidate cities hoped that the EMA would generate an economic boost. The institution brings in 800 employees and attracts an estimated 36,000 visitors annually.

The Netherlands announced its candidacy in April. The plan was to house the EMA in a new office complex on the Amsterdam Zuidas. This Vivaldi building had to cost 250 to 300 million euros, said then minister Edith Schippers (Public Health) and project ambassador Wouter Bos in July at the presentation of the building plans. The building would not be ready at the time of the planned move on 1 January. The EMA, therefore, had to be accommodated at a temporary location first.

The latter was a downside of the Dutch bid, according to the European Commission two months ago. The Commission submitted all submissions to an analysis. The fact that there was nothing in the Dutch bid about security, the presence of an archive, and the IT systems also was assessed as weaknesses by Brussels. The Dutch intention to contribute an extra 18 million euros to the EMA if Amsterdam won the tender could count on more enthusiasm.

Later on Monday, the 27 member states also vote on the allocation of the European Banking Authority (EBA). That EU agency is less popular than the significantly larger EMA. Eight cities compete for that tender. The Netherlands has no interest.

Dutch bid for EMA:

Source: (Dutch news)

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