New EMA Amsterdam HQ not ready for relocation from London

The Amsterdam headquarters of the EMA will not be open in time for it’s impending departure from London. The EMA has been offered a temporary residence by the Dutch government.

Amsterdam centre
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is being forced to move almost 900 staff and their families from London to Amsterdam because of Brexit, has admitted its new Dutch headquarters will not be ready by the time the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

Pressure in Amsterdam over population increase

Amid mounting criticism in Amsterdam that the city’s already over-stretched housing market and education system cannot cope with the influx of so many expats, the EMA’s management board has been told that the organisation’s new HQ will not be ready until at least November 2019, eight months after the agency must move from its current offices in London’s Docklands. Some reports have suggested the move will not be complete until the spring of 2020.The announcement came less than a month after the European Council chose Amsterdam to host the EMA, Europe’s regulatory agency for pharmaceuticals.In a statement, the EMA said, “The Dutch government will offer temporary premises to EMA from January 1 2019, or earlier if requested by EMA, for an interim period until the building is ready.”Beatrice Lorenzin, Italy’s health minister, seized on the announcement to call for the credentials of Milan – the last of 16 contenders to lose out to Amsterdam as the new base for the EMA – to be re-examined. “In these hours we are hearing rumours from London and Brussels that Amsterdam won’t be able to guarantee EMA’s relocation with staff in the definitive office before May 2020,” she said.“If the year delay were true, I think Italy should imagine if there are paths to be pursued from a juridical standpoint, as well as political, to see if the reallocation that was made is still valid.”
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Financial pressure on EMA

The EMA also said that, despite a slight increase in its 2018 budget, the relocation would mean it would have to carefully monitor costs. “This suggests that EMA will be able to maintain its core activities, but also signals that in other areas the agency will have to temporarily reduce or suspend activities,” the EMA said.Meanwhile, there has been growing unease in the press and social media since Amsterdam won the competition, over whether or not the city can cope with arrival of so many expats and their dependants. The newspaper NRC Handelsblad recently posed the headline question, “A Nice Brexit Trophy, But Can the City Handle It?”Locals have expressed concern that the arrival of well-paid foreigners will drive up property prices. Jan Rath, a sociology professor at the University of Amsterdam, said home prices were already too high, with first-time buyers unable to get on the property ladder, and that the city’s education system would also groan under the additional strain, especially among international schools. ”These (EMA) people have qualifications, they have skills, they are networked, and so the fact is that they compete for houses and jobs with people who don’t have those qualifications,” added Prof Rath.

Concern over housing in Amsterdam

Mike Russell, director of housing group Principle Vastgoed, told DutchNews that supply in the city was already short and the budgets available to the EMA staffers would drive up everything in all price sectors of the market.“If they have €1,800 plus to spend, that is going to put upward pricing pressure on the market,” he said. “Amsterdam pitched itself as a great place to live and everyone who makes the move here is coming for the Amsterdam experience, not the Almere experience.”In addition to the EMA workforce of almost 900 moving to Holland, more than 600 children under the age of 18 will have to be accommodated, most in international schools and daycare centres. The city has already guaranteed that the children will have access to international education and that “housing in the different segments is readily available”.But DutchNews commented, “It is unclear, as yet, how the city, already grappling with a shortage of affordable homes, will cope with the new influx.”
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