EMA will go to Amsterdam, not Bratislava

The Slovak capital finished fourth in first round of vote for the seat of the prestigious European Medicines Agency

EMA will move from London due to Brexit. It will go to Amsterdam.EMA will move from London due to Brexit. It will go to Amsterdam. (Source: AP/TASR)

Bratislava has failed in its bid to host the prestigious European Medicines Agency (EMA). It did not receive enough votes to progress to the second round of a secret ballot carried out at a General Affairs Council session in Brussels on Monday, November 20. Slovak Health Minister Tomáš Drucker (a Smer nominee) was present at the vote.

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Milan won the first round with 25 votes, followed by Amsterdam and Copenhagen, which gained 20 votes each from EU-member states. Bratislava ended up fourth with 15 votes.

The Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Ministry did not hide its disappointment at Slovakia not winning the EMA seat. According to the ministry, Slovakia’s bid, which it submitted along with the Health Ministry, was excellent.

“We are convinced that the citizens of the European Union from the newer member states expected an important signal that showed that even the new member states would be given the opportunity to demonstrate their readiness to host such an important agency as the EMA,” said Peter Susko, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry.

Read also: Bratislava and Milan lead race for EU medicines agency, the Financial Times writes Read more 

Among Slovakia’s strongest arguments in the battle to host the agency was the fact that the country has not been home to any European agencies so far.

The Initiative Inakosť – a civic association advocating the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual people, points out that Slovakia does not recognise same-sex marriages.

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“The fact that Slovakia does not recognise the family status of same-sex couples at all is firstly disrespectful to its own citizens,” said Martin Macko, executive director of the Initiative

Inakosť wrote in its statement. “The decision not to place the EMA seat in Slovakia shows that this issue is also a competitive disadvantage for our country.”

On October 3, the EMA published comments on member states' hosting bids. While the proposed site, Westend Plaza, was assessed as meeting EMA needs for offices and meeting rooms, among the shortcomings listed was that there are no flight connections from Bratislava airport to international locations. Another comment was that registered partnerships are not available under national law in Slovakia.

As many as 19 countries were vying to host the EMA originally, although Malta, Croatia and Ireland withdrew their bids.

EU ministers eventually decided in the final round of the vote that the new home of the medicines agency, which will have to move out of London due to Brexit, will be Amsterdam.

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