December 12, 2017
Latest News

Dutch health minister: EMA relocation is not entertainment, listen to the Commission

 Dutch Health Minister, Edith Schippers. (Photo: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs) 

Dutch Health Minister, Edith Schippers. (Photo: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs) 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is not a toy to be played with by politicians, Edith Schippers told EPA's partner The decision on the agency’s relocation should be based on the European Commission’s assessment, she argues in an interview.

Member states have until the end of July to submit their bids to host the European Medicines Agency, which is currently in London.

The European Commission will then review the bids by 30 September, based on six criteria. A final decision is expected in November in a Eurovision-style voting process.

Edith Schippers is the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport in the Netherlands.

She spoke to EURACTIV’s Sarantis Michalopoulos in a telephone interview ahead of the official presentation of the Dutch bid (11 July) to host the EMA

What would be the main advantages of Amsterdam hosting the EMA?

Amsterdam is a very nice city to live in. It’s in the top 10 of the most loveable cities in Europe and we basically have a multicultural community. The economy is flourishing, we have a high-skilled multilingual workforce and of course, the Schiphol airport. It has the highest number of direct flight connections with the rest of the EU.

So, in our plans, the distance between Schiphol and the EMA location will be less than 10 minutes. In addition, our regulator is ready to take over the operations of the EMA, which is in my opinion very important as the EU drug agency is not just an authority. It’s the authority which many patients across Europe are dependent on.

20% of the EMA’s work is currently done by the UK national agency. Will your regulator be able to continue this work?

I’m convinced about that. We will invest more in this scientific work because we find it really important. The full details on that will be presented this afternoon.

What is your opinion about the discussion over the need for “geographical balance”?

It’s obvious that geographical balance is very important. But this is not just an institution. If you start building an institution or an authority then you start from scratch. This is a fully operational and very important authority. It is important to have geographical balance, but the EMA is one of the cornerstones of the EU’s health system.

As a minister of health, I find it quite significant to decide on its relocation based on objective criteria. It’s in the interest of EU patients that we will take care of the continuity of the agency’s work.

The decision will be based on objective criteria but many admit that it’s still a political decision. Do you think that a decision based on politics could put the business continuity criterion at risk?

I know that it’s a political decision. But I think the assessment of the European Commission should be taken into account in this decision. Otherwise, why does the Commission make an assessment?

The political decision has to take into consideration the Commission’s evaluation.

There are candidate countries that are backed by the pharmaceutical sector to host the EMA, is this a disadvantage for the Netherlands?

There is a misunderstanding here. The EMA is not about the pharma sector in the first place. The EMA is for patients and its main objective is to provide safe and effective medicines to 510 million people in Europe.

Having said that let me point out that in the Netherlands we have an important bioscience sector, which is responsible for many innovations in drugs and treatments.

But let’s be clear. The EMA is for patients in the first place, not for the pharmaceuticals.

Do you fear that the EMA relocation will split EU countries? Could this be a negative political message ahead of the Brexit negotiations?

Even after Brexit, we remain 27 countries and of course, these countries can have different opinions and political views. This is also the case with the EMA relocation. It’s very good to have discussions in Europe also after Brexit, we have different opinions but in the end, I am sure we will reach a conclusion with EMA.

The EMA talks won’t be the last discussion we will have among the 27 member states after Brexit. It’s not wrong to debate within the EU, but in the end, of course, we have to come up with one policy.

Talking about conclusions, do you agree with the so-called “Eurovision-style” voting process for the relocation of the EMA?

The EMA is not an entertainment. It’s very important for the life of people and we should not treat it as an entertainment. So, the assessment of the Commission is truly vital and the political decision will have to consider its assessments.

So you disagree with two or three rounds of voting.

I am in favour of a decision in which the assessment of the Commission will be the basis.

News history
ECRE head: Asylum management needs compliance, not new laws

Some European countries are trying to enact restrictive policies and create a hostile atmosphere to discourage migrants and asylum seekers, blatantly...

S&D chief: ‘Employment for young Africans is a huge challenge’

On the eve of the EU-Africa Summit, Gianni Pittella says that European short-termism in migration policy will not address its root causes, and looks at...

UN chief: Migration ‘highly desirable’ if managed humanely and responsibly

For the first time, the Paris Agreement acknowledged climate change causes migration. At COP23 in Bonn, the big question is how to address it, William Lacy...

Swoboda: ‘Borissov? We have had many strange guys leading governments’

The former long-serving leader of the S&D group in the European Parliament Hannes Swoboda provided EPA 's partner EURACTIV insight ahead of the...

Tomáš Zdechovský: The EU begins in the stomach of a Czech citizen

The Czechs do not know anything about the EU’s global strategies or the interconnection of energy networks. But they know very well that they can buy...

S&D chief works for a progressive alliance away from ‘Orbánising’ EPP

Navracsics: Education policy is tomorrow’s economic policy

Europe’s future schools need to be more skills-oriented. Faced with falling education expenditure, member states need to keep focused on their education...

Airbus exec.: EU ‘bonus’ for aviation biofuels may be too little

The European Commission’s proposal to incentivise the production of biofuels for aircraft with a 20% “multiplier” goes in the right direction, says Thierry...

City leader: Europe must simplify rules to help cities become more resilient

Europe is moving in the right direction in helping its cities become more resilient and sustainable, but the EU must streamline its myriad regulations and...

European Parliament VP: ‘We must use the window of opportunity’ to deepen EU integration

Current conditions are ideal to push the EU towards becoming a European federal state, according to one of the vice-presidents of the European Parliament,...

Jourova: EU rules on company seat transfers means savings for business

European firms could save millions in start-up and merger costs if they could use EU rules on cross-border transfer of registered office, says Věra...

EU digital official: Cyber threats know no borders

Linda Cogruedo Steneberg, Director at the the European Commission’s DG Connect , revealed how the EU executive is trying to extend broadband coverage and...

Oslo Mayor: Here’s how we plan to become a carbon neutral city

Raymond Johansen (centre), Oslo Mayor. (File Photo: Arbeiderpartiet)

Van Rompuy: Juncker’s single EU president idea ‘cannot deliver’

A week after the landmark State of the Union speech by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the first president of the European Council...

Stanley Johnson: In 50 years, Brexit may look like the right move at the right time

Former MEP Stanley Johnson, the father of the current UK foreign secretary, told EPA 's partner that Brexit should not throw out the...

Zahradil: Visegrád must be firm vis-à-vis Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron is applying a divide and rule strategy against the Visegrád Group, Czech lawmaker Jan Zahradil told EPA 's partner...

Green MEP: EU member states did not learn from VW scandal

The EU has failed in sanctioning car manufacturers following the Volkswagen scandal and this means that they did not learn their lesson, Green MEP Karima...

Nathalie Loiseau: France has ignored Eastern Europe for too long

France is looking east to launch a reform of the EU and is seeking Central Europe’s support on defence, migration, trade and posted workers briefs. EPA...

EU privacy watchdog: Privacy shield should be temporary

European privacy watchdogs have received “a few” complaints about the privacy shield data transfer agreement with the United States since it was brokered...

GEOX founder: ‘Invest more in education, that’s the real problem’

Greek minister: With progressive federalism EU will regain citizens’ trust

In order for Europe to address the current governance issue and convince citizens that it works in their interest it should turn to a left-wing progressive...

Dutch health minister: EMA relocation is not entertainment, listen to the Commission

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is not a toy to be played with by politicians, Edith Schippers told EPA 's partner . The decision on...

Estonian ambassador: Trump is right, Europe should pay for own defence

Estonian Ambassador to Poland Harri Tiido explained the priorities of his country’s EU Presidency and talked about the current challenges facing Europe, in...

Energy guru lifts the veil on first Putin-Trump meeting

EXCLUSIVE/ Energy guru Igor Yusufov shared his views with on the first bilateral meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US...

I agree Welcome to We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.