The news that Amsterdam will host the European Medicines Agency when it leaves London after Brexit has been widely welcomed for its impact on both the Netherlands’ reputation as a location to do business and the likely knock-on effect on employment.
Nevertheless, there are considerable issues to solve within the 16 months set aside for the move, officials warn.
The decision ‘marks the official start of a challenging joint relocation project that will have to be delivered within extremely tight deadlines… and completed by March 30, 2019,’ the London-based body said after the result of the European ministers’ vote was announced.
In particular, the EMA has a workforce of some 890, most of whom will move to the Dutch capital and will need suitable housing. EMA workers also have 600 plus children under the age of 18, many of whom will need to be found places at international schools and daycare centres.
The Amsterdam bid included a commitment to implement a relocation plan with a dedicated team of experts to help staff make the move. The city has already guaranteed that the children of EMA staff will have access to international education and that ‘housing in the different segments is readily available.’
It is unclear, as yet, how the city, already grappling with a shortage of affordable homes, will cope with the new influx.
Mike Russell, director of housing group Principle Vastgoed told DutchNews.nl that supply in the city is already short and the budgets available to the EMA staffers will drive everything, which ever segment they are looking in.
‘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.’
Purpose built office
The EMA will first be housed in temporary offices before moving to a purpose-built building in Amsterdam’s Zuidas district next to the EY offices. The building will be some 80 metres high with 19 floors and will cost between €250m and €300m to build.
The tab for the new building, named Vivaldi, is being picked up by the Dutch government which will rent it to the EMA for the market rate. The government is also providing an €18m sweetener to help pay for the move.
Zuidas director David van Traa says the arrival of the EMA will further boost the district’s profile as a top location to do business.
In addition, he said, ‘the many international workers and visitors will undoubtably contribute to making Zuidas a more lively place as it moves from being a business district to a unique new district of Amsterdam where you can live and work.’