Minister for Health Simon Harris today launched Dublin's bid for the re-location of the EMA (European Medicines Agency) in Brussels on the eve of the European Council tomorrow. Minister Harris also launched the official www.emadublin.ie website and bid brochure.
The re-location of the EMA is an information point at the Council and it is expected the likely timelines and process will be clarified. The Minister has meetings scheduled with 25 EU Ambassadors and Diplomats; Irish officials within the Institutions; the Belgian Health Minister, Maggie De Blok and Brussels based media.
Speech by Minister Simon Harris
Briefing for EU Ambassadors/Diplomats, Irish Perm Rep
Ambassadors and representatives
I would like to thank you for attending this event and I hope you will accept my appreciation for your interest in our campaign to make Dublin the new home of the European Medicines Agency.
I, and the Irish Government, truly believe that Dublin represents the best and most sustainable choice for Europe and the EMA and I will explain why to you today.
As we all know, the UK’s decision to leave the EU has created many challenges. The requirement to relocate the EMA to another Member State from its established home in London is one such challenge. However, like everything related to Brexit, we as European Citizens must now rise to meet those challenges.
Our discussion today is timely, on the eve of the EU Council meeting tomorrow, where the issue of the relocation of Agencies based in the UK will be raised. It is expected that the process and timeline for a decision in relation to the EMA will be clarified. The Irish Government has always said that an early decision on agency relocation is important, particularly for the EMA, to allow for an orderly transfer of operations.
As Minister for Health, I am conscious that the EMA plays a vital role in the protection of the health of over 500 million European citizens through the scientific evaluation and safety monitoring of human and veterinary medicines. The Agency is also key to maintaining the competiveness of the European pharmaceutical industry, which is worth around €260 billion annually.
The EMA is facing a number of challenges in the light of Brexit, chief among which is the likely significant loss of expert staff and disruption to its operations. The loss of expertise in particular could severely impact the vital work undertaken by the Agency.
For example, any decrease in the EMA’s ability to function as it does now would hamper the research, development, trialling and authorisation of novel medicines, as well as access for patients.
With this in mind, it is vital when considering the matter of relocation that we first and foremost agree on a sustainable solution for the Agency, for Europe and above all else, for patients.
I am absolutely convinced that relocating the EMA to Dublin is the best choice in this regard. I say this not only for Dublin or Ireland but as genuinely the best choice for Europe.
Dublin truly does have many advantages to offer the EMA:
The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and my fellow Ministers are fully behind our bid and have at all times recognised that continuity of service is of paramount importance in the transition to a new home.
I have already said that I believe that it is in the best interests of the EMA that there is an early decision on the new location, in order to provide certainty to staff and allow sufficient time for a smooth transition. I think it is also worth remembering that we are not talking about the establishment of a new agency, but rather the relocation of an existing, well-functioning organisation which has gained a reputation for excellence within the global regulatory system over the last 20 years.
It may seem strange that I, as a politician, firmly believe that the future location of the EMA is too important to be a purely ‘political decision’. Europe must find a solution that is in the best interests of European citizens and the innovative bio-pharmaceutical industry.
We must look objectively at the issue and achieve, on behalf of European citizens, a seamless transition and business continuity. I believe that Dublin ticks every box in this respect, with geographical and cultural proximity for ease of transition, excellent air connectivity, world-class ICT services, an open and stable political system for long term surety, government commitment to the project and a significant pool of highly skilled life science professionals.
The case for Dublin is summarised in the brochure available here today.
To those of you who are also competing to host the EMA, I will say ‘good luck’. I know that other countries will put forward very strong bids. I am sure the competition will proceed in a friendly and positive manner with everyone focussed on the best outcome for the EMA, and for Europe and its citizens!
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