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EU drugs agency issues £31.8m staff tender on Brexit fallout

[LONDON] Europe's drugs regulator has issued a £31.8 million (S$56.8 million) tender for temporary workers as it struggles with the fallout of Brexit and a forced relocation from London.

Based in London since 1995, with around 890 employees, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) acts as a one-stop-shop for approving and monitoring the safety of drugs across Europe.

Although the EMA routinely employs temporary workers, the scale of the tender is unusually large. It comes at a time of huge uncertainty for staff, many of whom are expected to quit the agency rather than leave London.

Executive director Guido Rasi told Reuters in an interview this week that crucial work, from approving new drugs to running safety checks, would be put at risk if politicians picked an unsuitable new location.

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Preparing for the fallout of the move and the impact of Britain leaving the European Union (EU) is already creating extra work for the EMA and forcing it to cut back on some non-critical activities.

The tender documents call for bi-lingual and multi-lingual staff with administrative, scientific, regulatory and legal expertise to work in the EMA's London office.

The agency must be based in an EU country and political leaders are set to decide in a vote on Nov 20 on a new location among 19 cities vying to host the organisation.

A staff survey last week found that between 19 and 94 pe rcent of employees were likely to leave after the move, depending on which location was chosen. Picking Amsterdam, Barcelona, Vienna, Milan or Copenhagen as the new headquarters would be the best option for retaining staff, the survey found.

REUTERS