September 26, 2017 / 12:54 PM / a year ago

EU drugs watchdog warns of staff exodus if move from London botched

FRANKFURT, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Europe’s drugs regulator could lose more than 70 percent of its staff, making it unable to function, if politicians pick the wrong new home for the London-based agency, it warned on Tuesday.

Citing a staff survey, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said anywhere between 19 percent and more than 70 percent of employees plan to leave when the regulator moves due to Britain’s departure from the EU - depending on the new location.

“The future of public health in Europe is at stake”, the EMA said. It did not identify the 19 cities discussed in the survey.

The European Commission is assessing potential new locations for the EMA, but the decision rests with EU leaders who will try to reach a deal at their next summit in October. A final decision is expected a month later.

Milan, Copenhagen, Athens, Amsterdam and Barcelona are among the cities seeking to host the EMA, with Milan seen as a possible frontrunner.

“For certain locations staff retention rates could be significantly less than 30 percent. This would mean that the Agency is no longer able to function and, as there is no back-up, this would have important consequences for public health in the EU,” the EMA said.

The agency said last month it was cutting back on lower-priority work as it prepares for disruption caused by Brexit and the need to relocate from London to another city inside the European Union. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Mark Potter)

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