Relocation has no end date: EMA opens door to access

The European Medicines Agency is located in Amsterdam. Photo: Odi Busman

Two years after the European Medicines Agency moved most of its staff to Amsterdam, some workers and their families are still accustomed to the new location. This is a situation complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The huge relocation project involved 900 agency employees and about 80% of their families, most of whom relocated in 2019. Currently, EMA has decided to implement a volunteer organization, Access, to provide support and support to staff and their families. I’m still used to living in the Netherlands.

“Learning Dutch is much more difficult due to the limited mix of Dutch-speaking people,” said Rose, a partner of EMA workers. “The coronavirus certainly makes it difficult to take root. It is very important for that that we cannot know or socialize the country.”

Indeed, relocation is more than just finding a way to get home, school, and work, says Fergal Cooney, EMA’s HR specialist. “It took a long time to find your feet in a new country and the pandemic didn’t help. People couldn’t get out and network.”

In total, 83% of people working at EMA in London have moved to Amsterdam. Since then, a few people have left, but the existing customer rate for cross-border relocations is believed to be very high.

Moving to a new country with a different language and habits “provides all sorts of practical problems, from knowing how to book a doctor to knowing how the garbage system works,” said Access Director. Deborah Valentine says.

According to a survey released earlier this month by the International Community Advisory Platform, new arrivals, in particular, found it difficult to deal with mentally due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus. We also found that only 2% of the people surveyed received support from the Human Resources department.

Ongoing support should involve more HR departments, says Valentine, who is also a member of the ICAP Board. Access already operates help desks at “expatriate” centers in several cities and provides business-to-business support through the Patron program, of which EMA is the latest member.


“In an increasingly competitive world of the right people, HR is often overwhelmed by all the“ soft ”questions that come in,” she says. “We can help mitigate this-after all, 90% of our volunteers have all gone through the process themselves.”

One such volunteer is Alessandra, who moved to the Netherlands in September 2019 with a partner working at EMA.

“The blockade has made integration into the Netherlands even more difficult at some levels,” says Alessandra. “We couldn’t take Dutch courses or use cultural services such as museums, theaters and cinemas, and social encounters with new people were due to restrictions and worries. It has been hindered.


In addition, Alessandra was able to find a job for herself, but “it was very difficult to settle into a new work environment without direct physical contact with colleagues,” she says.

The EMA, which is currently receiving media attention for its central role in assessing the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine, officially relocated to Amsterdam in March 2019 and was hit by a coronavirus pandemic. Moved to a dedicated office in the same way as.

“This is about long-term integration,” says Cooney. The new partnership with Access is the staff we have, the new staff to move here, and our staff partners, husbands and wives who gave up something to move to the Netherlands, boyfriends and girlfriends. Is for.

“The pandemic made them find jobs, network, and really restless,” he says. “And there is no end date for relocation to build a new life.”

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Relocation has no end date: EMA opens door to access

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