UK loses two key strategic European Agencies.

The EU Commission has received 27 offers from Member States to host the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – both of which are currently located in the United Kingdom.

The relocation is a direct consequence of the UK decision to leave the EU.  It is not open to discussion.  A decision will be taken by the 27 EU Member States at the November General Affairs Council - and relocation of the two agencies will begin.

A quick decision on the transfer from London is necessary. The EMA and the EBA are two key regulatory agencies for the EU's Single Market - and are essential for the authorisation of medicines and bank regulation. EU Commission says that: “they need to continue to function smoothly and without disruption beyond March 2019.”

A highly significant and “unintended consequence” of Brexit. 

As a result, the UK is looking at an unmitigated loss of: local employment; world renowned unique and specialist knowledge; infrastructure and global influence.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), itself, has warned that the damage caused by its relocation from London would, at best, take two years to fix – and, at worst, lead to its complete breakdown and a major public health crisis for the continent.

EMA staff are drawn from across the EU.  When surveyed about relocating to the cities that are bidding to host the Agency, the least popular would result in only 6% of staff moving – dissipating decades of skills, knowledge and experience.  An EMA statement says that staff retention rates of less than 30% 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 as no new medicines could be authorised.”

The EU would have to rely on medicines imported and approved from companies and agencies in countries such as Japan and the US.  EMA suggests that such a “public health crisis would mean ‘permanent damage’ to the European system and that patients would be exposed to side-effects including “deaths [and] litigation”.

There are direct costs to UK economy.  Present EU estimate of the cost of moving just the EMA out of the UK stands at £521 million to be added into the ‘divorce settlement”.  London will lose millions in annual revenue generated by the thousands of visitors to EMA. In addition, there will be significant indirect costs and risks as the UK will need to fill the regulatory vacuums created when the UK can no longer rely on EU driven standards.

This impact is illustrative of the insights needed to cope with Brexit.  No sector of industry or commerce is immune to the turbulence. 

John ShuttleworthComment