Dublin cuts its losses in EMA bid by pulling out, favouring EBA instead

20 Nov 2017

Sign at the EMA office in London. Image: Alessandro Zappalorto/Shutterstock

Dublin has pulled out of its bid to host the European Medicines Agency before it can even be told it hasn’t made the cut.

Before an expected announcement this evening (20 November) on the future home of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Dublin has decided to pull out of the race.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed the decision, with The Irish Times revealing that the Government has now decided to focus its efforts on winning another major industry body: the European Banking Authority (EBA).

Under the EMA’s voting rules, each minister from a representative state has six votes to cast, with three for a first-preference vote, followed by two and one for their second and third choice, respectively.

With ministers gathering to vote on where the EMA should move to, it is understood that Ireland offered an exchange deal whereby its first-preference votes would be swapped for another member state’s in the vote for the EBA bid.

Eight cities remain in the running for the EBA, including financial powerhouses such as Luxembourg and Frankfurt.

This now makes Ireland the third country to pull out of the race to win the EMA bid, with Malta leaving last week and Croatia also announcing its withdrawal earlier today.

Housing crisis a possible factor

In the weeks and months leading up to today’s decision, it appeared that Ireland was facing an uphill task to encourage the EMA to select Dublin as its new location.

Despite its proximity to the current EMA base in London, Dublin was going to struggle with meeting the agency’s explicit requirements for readily available housing for its 900 staff, given the ongoing accommodation crisis that has greatly affected the tech industry in the capital.

The decision to pull out of the deal also marks a major turnaround for the Government after it promised earlier this year to spend €10m to relocate the families of employees to Dublin, in addition to committing €78m towards the upkeep of the organisation, including its rent and maintenance.

A report issued by KPMG in August had Dublin down as one of the 10 most likely contenders for the EMA bid. Paris appears to be leading the way as a major international hub, with more than 2,500 direct flights per week as well as almost 500 hotels to cater for conference guests.

Sign at the EMA office in London. Image: Alessandro Zappalorto/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic