LONDON The European Medicines Agency has had expressions of interest to host the London-based regulator from 21 of the 27 countries that will form the European Union once Britain leaves, revealing rivalry from Amsterdam to Zagreb for a prized institution.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), Europe's equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is preparing to leave its London headquarters in the wake of Brexit and its executive director is hoping for a quick decision on its new location.
The agency is responsible for the smooth-running of the EU drug approval process, which is vital for companies, as well as overseeing the safety of medicines once they reach the market.
With nearly 900 skilled staff, an annual budget of 322 million euros ($340 million) and luring 36,000 experts a year to its meetings, the EMA is the largest EU institution in Britain and an attractive prospect for multiple cities.
Its new location will be determined by EU heads of state, meeting as the European Council, leaving plenty of scope for haggling.
The other significant EU body in London is the European Banking Authority, with 160 staff, which is also set to relocate.
The EMA told Reuters that representatives of governments and/or cities from the following countries had been in touch in to declare their interest in hosting the agency:
The EMA said it did not know if all those that had expressed interest would go on to submit a formal bid.
One notable name missing from the list is Poland, which had been tipped as being among countries keen to host the regulator. An agency spokeswoman said Polish officials had not been in touch to declare an interest.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter)