Closer to Europe

Bonn makes its application for the new site of the European Medicines Agency

Die Fotosimulation zeigt die neuen Bürobauten, in die die EMA auf dem einstigen Gelände des Bonn-Centers am Bundeskanzlerplatz unterkommen könnte.

The photo simulation of the proposed new offices for the EMA on the site of the former Bonn-Center at Bundeskanzlerplatz which the EMA could move into

Bonn. Bonn has made its application for the European Medicines Agency. The Agency could move into new offices at Bundeskanzlerplatz or on to the former site of the State Authorities building.

Sometimes things can go quicker than expected: up until now, Art-Invest, owner of the site of the former Bonn-Center had kept the plans for the area at Bundeskanzlerplatz quiet, but now it is clear: should Bonn be awarded the contract for the relocation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) headquarters in November, the London based Agency could be given a new address in direct proximity to the UN Campus.

In any case, the government’s application brochure to the EU called ‘Closer to Europe’ shows a simulation of new office buildings and a tower in which over 900 employees could move into. In response to the question of whether there are any concrete plans for the new buildings, Arne Hilbert, Head of the NRW branch of Art-Invest said: “Bonn and the new Kanzlerplatz perfectly match the current profile of the EMA.

We will let the press now, as soon as any decisions are made.” In response to the question about the height of the office tower – up to 100m is allowed – Hilbert remained vague. “The height of the tower depends on the business environment.”

And a further potential attractive location for the EMA is also presented: according to the building development plans, new offices of up to 110,000 m could be built on the site of the former State Authorities (Landesbehördenhaus) at Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 144. The Cologne office of the state department for construction and properties (Bau- und Liegenschaftsbetrieb (BLB) is planning the sale, said BLB spokesman Frank Buch. The outcome is still open. The advantage of this address would be that the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices would be next door. This is the biggest national regulatory body with 1100 employees, and according to the Federal Minister for Health Hermann Gröhe (CDU), the second largest regulatory authority after the EMA.

Brexit is the reason for the change of location

But first of all, the EU must make a decision about the future site of the EMA. As reported, the move away from London is necessary due to the UK leaving the EU. A few weeks ago, the EU specified the criteria to be met by the future site. An additional specification is that the EMA must also be able to continue working directly after the move.

The six criteria are:

1) The move

There must be sufficient office space for work stations, meetings, archives as well as high standards of telecommunications, enough server capacities and corresponding IT security standards.

2) Connections

There must be good flight connections and local and long distance public transport connections. Also sufficient accommodation for the employees.

3) Education

There must be multilingual schools with a “European orientation” for the children of the workers, as well as opportunities for further education.

4) Social and health system

The families of the employees must have access to the local employment market as well as social insurance and health care.

5) Operational continuity

Operational processes must not be interrupted. Here the expected time needed for the practicalities of the first four criteria plays a role. In case not all employees decide to relocate, there must be enough qualified personnel available at the new location. In brief: daily business must not be affected

6) Geographical distribution

The EU always tries to balance out the interests of its member states: how many EU institutions are already located in the applicant country? For example, it is not possible for Bonn and Frankfurt to be awarded the contract.

Further criteria points include accessibility, international schools and kindergarten, access to the job market for family members as well as leisure and cultural offerings. “There is no other city which meets the criteria better than Bonn”, said Wolfgang Clement recently at the presentation of Bonn’s application. The former Prime Minister for NRW is acting as special representative on behalf of the Federal government in the application for the new EMA site, in which 18 other EU cities including Stockholm, Vienna and Warsaw are also competing.

Bonn’s Mayor Ashok Sridharan (CDU), who has been strongly supporting the EMA relocation to Bonn for months, promises the EU: “Some of our administrative departments would be dedicated to dealing purely with the relocation of the EMA to Bonn.”

(Original text: Lisa Inhoffen / Translation: Caroline Payne)