(Adds task force and tax incentives)
By Mark Bendeich
MILAN Feb 16 The European Union is likely to
select a new home for the bloc's London-based medicines
regulator by June, according to the mayor of Milan, one of
several cities vying to host the organisation after Brexit.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which employs 890
staff, acts as a one-stop-shop for drug approvals across the EU,
but its future location is unclear after Britain's decision to
leave the bloc.
"There is a sort of urgency. It will depend on the final
resolution with the UK (on Brexit) but according to our
information, probably in April they will decide to define that.
In a couple of months they will choose the final destination,"
Mayor Giuseppe Sala told a news conference in Milan.
He said it would then be a couple of years before the agency
The EMA is the largest EU body in Britain and is a prize for
rival cities seeking to attract high-skilled jobs.
Other countries vying to host the agency include Denmark,
Sweden, Spain, France, Ireland and Poland. As well as creating
jobs, the EMA has the potential to act as a hub for
pharmaceuticals, one of Europe's most important industries.
Sala was flanked at the briefing by Economy Minister Pier
Carlo Padoan who, along with Italy’s prime minister and
president, are lobbying to persuade the EMA and also the
European Banking Authority to relocate to Milan from London.
Italy has also formed a task force to attract EU
institutions and banks looking to leave London as a result of
Brexit, and recently enacted personal tax incentives for
professional managers and wealthy non-residents coming to Italy.
These include a halving of personal income tax or, for the
super rich, a flat annual income tax of 100,000 euros.
Asked if Milan had already received positive signals over
the EMA, Sala said: "We know that many cities in Europe are
competing. It’s difficult to say now ... It’s clear to everybody
that it’s a political issue."
A spokeswoman for the EMA in London declined to comment on
the timing of any move, noting the location of the agency after
Brexit would be determined by EU member states by common
The uncertainty surrounding Europe's equivalent of the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration is a concern for drugmakers, who
worry that Europe's drug approval system might face disruption
and potential delays.
There is particular anxiety about relations between the EMA
and a future separate British drugs regulator. Drug company
executives are braced for Britain to quit the pan-European
medicines regulator as part of Brexit, but they want the country
to continue to work closely with the EMA by agreeing reciprocal
rules for drug approvals.
(Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler in London; Editing by
Susan Fenton and Adrian Croft)