August 30, 2017 / 3:58 PM / 10 months ago

Spain hires more staff at drug agency to prepare for Brexit disruption

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain posted 40 vacancies at its National Drug Agency on Wednesday to reinforce evaluation and monitoring of medicines ahead of Britain’s exit from the European Union which will likely lead to the European regulator leaving London.

The European Union wants the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is a one-stop shop for approving and monitoring the safety of drugs across Europe, to leave London after Brexit.

The health ministry plans to hire 40 staff this year to reinforce the 493 employees who monitor medicines in Spain, it said. More staff would also allow Barcelona to better compete as one of 19 European cities that have lodged official applications to host the EMA, the ministry added.

Spain’s decision to boost staff at a national level comes after the European agency initiated a business continuity plan earlier this month to deal with the uncertainty and workload implications linked to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

The European Commission will assess the European city candidates to host the EMA by September but the final decision rests with EU leaders who will try to reach a consensus deal at their next summit in October. The winner is expected to be announced the following month.

The EMA is a prized asset for the host country, employing nearly 900 staff with an annual budget of $360 million. It attracts 36,000 experts a year to London for meetings.

Writing by Jesus Aguado; Editing by Sonya Dowsett and Ken Ferris

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