Presentation in Brussels of the Dutch bid for European Medicine Agency

Speech of Minister Edith Schippers, at the presentation of the Dutch bid for European Medicine Agency in Brussels on July 11, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen,

Millions of Europeans depend on the availability of high quality, effective, safe medicine. Think of the many people with chronic diseases, who can live good and productive lives. Thanks to their medication.

Think of all those patients with cancer, that have an ever increasing chance of survival. Thanks to innovative treatments and medication.

The same is true for people with rare diseases.  They are looking at us; politicians – can we ensure their access to the treatments they need?

Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot do so without a well functioning pharmaceutical system. A system that serves the public. And stimulates innovation at the same time. This was also one of our key priorities during the Dutch presidency of the European Union, last year.

It is clear that such a system cannot do without excellent functioning, stable public institutions. Institutions like the European Medicines Agency.  EMA is one of the key players in the assessment of the quality, efficacy and safety of drugs. For both human ánd veterinary use.

EMA has done an excellent job in the past twenty years. Thanks to almost nine-hundred committed staff members.  And thousands of experts from all EU Member States. Together they perform important scientific work for the benefit of all European patients.

Due to Brexit, EMA faces uncertain, challenging times.

EMA’s relocation is a highly complex operation. It should be done with the greatest possible care.

We cannot jeopardize the continuity of EMA’s vital work.

We cannot afford to lose its vital expertise. Its independence. Its hard earned authority.

We are here today to show you that the Netherlands is most ready to take up that responsibility. To accommodate EMA. To offer it a new home.

I am very pleased that a man of great statue is on our side. Former deputy prime-minister, former minister of finance. Current chairman of the board of directors of one of our largest hospitals: mr Wouter Bos. He will be speaking to you later on.

Ladies and gentlemen. In our bid for relocating EMA, we offer four key elements that we consider crucial for its functioning: Commitment. Continuity. Connectivity. And community.

Our commitment is evident. We carefully studied  EMA’s demands and wishes. We have already worked out in detail what it takes to move the Agency from London to our country. Basically, we started almost a year ago.

We will establish new headquarters for the Agency.  It has already been planned in detail. Custom made to meet EMA’s needs.

Furthermore, a team of experts will offer full support during the relocation of the headquarters.  We didn’t forget about the many people that will move along with EMA. We will supply each individual family with individual assistance. To make them feel welcome and at home.

So, if the decision is made to relocate EMA to Amsterdam, it can keep on functioning without disruption. Due to a quick, smooth and seamless operation. We offer continuity! That is the only way to ensure the needs and the rights of our patients in Europe.

The Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board is already increasing its capacity. It is ready to offer EMA the scientific support it currently receives from the UK national regulators.  And as indicated by the previous speaker, our Board will seek cooperation with other national agencies. To strengthen the EU medicines regulatory network. To compensate for the loss of UK expertise. For that purpose our government is allocating 8 million euro’s for a cooperation program to that effect. And we invest an extra 2 million euro’s to strengthen the Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is strong competition and fierce debate on the relocation of EMA. We all want the “douze points”.

Nevertheless I urge EU member states to keep their eye on what is most important: the interest of European patients.

Now let me give to floor to mrs Kajsa Ollongren. On behalf of the city of Amsterdam she will tell you why our capital is best equipped to host the European Medicines Agency. And how Amsterdam and its surroundings offer the other two key elements in our bid: Connectivity and Community.