Post Brexit, it’s looking like the first European agency to relocate will be the European Medicines Agency. A decision is expected sometime this summer and out of the over 20 applicants to host the agency, Ireland has been one of the stronger contenders in a bid to win the 1000 employee regulator. The implications for Ireland in attracting the agency to the emerald isle could be huge. This is an agency which holds tremendous power in regulating an over €260 billion industry.
Our UK counterparts have benefitted substantially from housing the agency since John Major attracted them to Canary Wharf in the 1990’s. The scientific development community has grown rapidly with many multinational pharmaceutical businesses choosing to base their R&D centres close to the EMA. A number of Japanese companies have already intimated that they will move to whatever location the EMA chooses to be based. Even from a regulatory point of view, UK regulators have always had a greater influence on European regulation. As a highly respected agency, the HPRA would be hopeful to have a similar influence, if based in Dublin.
Minister Simon Harris along with the IDA and the HPRA have been leading the charge on this campaign with strong support from the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. It’s very much a case of team Ireland coming together and ensuring we present the best that we have to offer the EMA. However, whilst we’re excellent at outlining our strong points, we’re not all that adept at addressing our weaker points and outlining short, medium and long term plans to overcome these. My fear is that it won’t be our lack of transport, housing, adequate schooling or high income tax rates which will be our undoing. It will be that we will turn a blind eye to our short-comings and fail to put forward a dedicated strategy for how we would overcome these issues, should the EMA choose Dublin as a location.
Other EU countries will not be afraid to point to our weaker points and lack of planning and we should be ready to fight our corner and hit back with our own sniping criticisms. It’s certainly a time to pull together our most fervent debaters to win this most valuable of arguments for the Irish economy and it’s up to all of us in industry, the media and in government to ensure that the powers that be know how passionate we are about winning this bid.