The race to host the European Medicines Agency – How do the bidding cities shape up?

Countries who wish to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have until the end of this month to submit their bid.  Currently over 20 member states have submitted a bid and more may follow in the final days.

In this article, we consider how some of the bidders shape up against the main criteria.  These criteria are:

  • Strong science base offering scientific and medical experts
  • The accessibility of the location
  • Provision of sufficient hotel and meeting capacity
  • The availability of suitable housing, jobs, schooling, social security services and healthcare for EMA staff and their families
  • Not already hosting an EU agency or institution.

The EU Commission will be very keen to choose a country with a strong commitment to the EU that is very politically stable.  It would probably also be advantageous if English is commonly spoken in the elected city.  It is an asset for the EMA to be located in a country with a well-managed and sizeable national competent authority.


Country Strengths Weaknesses


Amsterdam, Netherlands



  • Tailor-made building in the business district
  • Great connectivity with a major International    airport, port & trains
  • Good job opportunities for spouses
  • Has some large and growing hotel capacity
  • High quality of life and work-life balance
  • Politically pro-EU
  • English commonly spoken
  • Modest science base
  • Modest sized national competent authority
  • Modest number of International & European schools
  • Small country, very densely packed
  • High cost of living
  • Home to many other EU agencies


Bonn, Germany



  • Strong national competent authority
  • Good science base
  • Lower cost of living than some competitor cities
  • English language commonly spoken
  • Good public transportation
  • Very good work-life balance
  • Politically a leading EU country
  • Relatively poor connectivity with a low number of direct flights
  • Low number of hotels
  • Home to many other EU agencies
  • Comparatively smaller number of International & European schools
  • Comparatively lower quality of life than in some other competitor cities

Lille, France


  • Good transportation – Eurostar, airport
  • Strong national competent authority
  • Politically pro-EU
  • Good science base
  • Moderate quality of life
  • Higher cost of living
  • Country home to other EU bodies and agencies
  • English language spoken less commonly
  • Modest hotels and meeting space
  • Limited International & European schools
  • Comparatively modest job opportunities


Milan, Italy



  • New multi-billion dollar research facility
  • Good connectivity
  • Good living conditions and reasonable cost of living
  • Somewhat strong life-science presence
  • Good sized competent authority
  • Job opportunities for spouses
  • Reasonable hotel accommodation
  • Reasonable work-life balance
  • Reputation of national agency less strong than some
  • English language spoken very little
  • Comparatively lower quality of life than some competitor cities
  • Some political instability
  • Modest number of International & European schools


Stockholm, Sweden



  • Well regarded and sized national agency
  • Pretty strong science base
  • Good national competent authority
  • Pro-EU and politically stable
  • Good job opportunities for spouses
  • English language commonly spoken
  • Very good living conditions and quality of life
  • Moderate housing/living costs
  • Reasonably good accessibility
  • Modest number of International & European schools
  • Modest number of hotels
  • Already hosts of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Information comes from our own research and a report published by KPMG.

We will continue our analysis of other contender cities in the coming months, prior to the announcement of the future location of the EMA in October.

Brexit will have a significant impact on pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.  We are working with companies to help them understand and prepare for the impact of Brexit.  If you would like our help to navigate the Brexit maze, please contact one of our regulatory or pharmacovigilance team.