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HDA UK Media And Political Bulletin – 8 November 2017

Media and Political Bulletin

8 November 2017

Media Summary

Ministers Clueless Over Cost Of Replacing EU Agencies, Labour MP’s Questions Reveal

Huffington Post, Rachel Wearmouth, 6 November 2017

 

The Huffington Post reports on Labour MP Mary Creagh’s comments that the Government is ‘woefully unprepared for Brexit’. In her recent parliamentary questions, Ms Creagh argued that the staff, investment and buildings needed for the UK to maintain standards in vital areas like food safety, air travel and cross-border disease outbreaks have not been calculated as part of the ongoing negotiations between the Government and EU.

Creagh called the Government ‘woefully unprepared for Brexit’ after no department – including the Department of Health, the Department for Transport and DEFRA – was able to give her a clear answer on what bill the UK would be left with to replace EU agencies’ work.

 

U.K. May Seek Closer Ties With U.S. Drug Overseer After Brexit

Bloomberg, Naomi Kresge, 6 November 2017

 

Bloomberg highlights that if the UK is unable to reach an accord regarding new drug approvals by the European medicines regulator following Brexit, the government may consider looking to the U.S. for support.

The article notes that while pharmaceutical industry executives have advocated reaching a pact that would allow for mutual recognition of new medicines between the EMA and the national drug agency, without such a deal, companies may opt to introduce new drugs in the UK, only after they’ve tapped the U.S., continental Europe and other, bigger markets.

 

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Ministers Clueless Over Cost Of Replacing EU Agencies, Labour MP’s Questions Reveal

Huffington Post, Rachel Wearmouth, 6 November 2017

 

Ministers are clueless as to how much it would cost the UK public purse to replace the EU’s regulatory functions if the country crashes out of Europe without a deal, it has emerged.

The staff, investment and buildings needed for the UK to maintain standards in vital areas like food safety, air travel and cross-border disease outbreaks have not been calculated, according to Parliamentary Questions by Labour MP Mary Creagh.

If Brexit Secretary David Davis and his team of negotiators fail to strike a deal with Brussels, the UK would immediately leave major EU agencies such as the European Aviation Safety Agency, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Creagh has called the Government “woefully unprepared for Brexit” after not one department – including the Department of Health, the Department for Transport and DEFRA – gave her a clear answer on what bill the UK would be left with to replace EU agencies’ work.

The Department for Health said: “We are not in a position to speculate on the cost to the public purse and the number of staff required to replicate the relevant functions the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.”

The Department for Transport, led by arch Brexiteer Chris Grayling, said it is “considering carefully all the potential implications” of leaving the European Aviation Agency, but was unable to provide an assessment of the cost of establishing a separate body.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, led by Michael Gove, said it hasn’t yet decided if the UK should remain in the European Environment Agency or not, but that: “In taking any decisions on replicating relevant functions, the Government will always look to minimise disruption and cost.”

 

Creagh, a leading supporter of the pro-single market campaign Open Britain, said: “The mealy-mouthed answers provided by various departments to my questions are a clear attempt to obscure the truth: the Government is woefully unprepared for Brexit and the wide-ranging impacts it will have on everything from air travel to medicines to food safety.

“They make a mockery of ministers’ claims that Britain would be perfectly ok if we were to leave with no deal.

“If the Government wrenches our country out of the EU without an agreement, we will end participation with key EU agencies without any clear structures to replace them. This would be a disaster for our country, our economy and our people.

 “The Government must negotiate a deal that will keep Britain in vital pan-European agencies, and drop their absurd threat to leave with no deal.”

The UK is a member of 39 EU agencies. The European Aviation Safety Agency, to take one example, has a budget of €140 million and employs more than 800 staff. The European Medicines Agency, meanwhile, has a budget of around €320 million and employs more than 900 staff.

Even if the Government secures a deal, delays to the EU Withdrawal Bill mean it is unlikely that the UK will have the infrastructure in place to replicate the work of these agencies by March 2019.

In the Commons last week, Davis told the Brexit Select Committee he expected Britain to remain part of the Open Skies Agreement, European Medicines Agency, and European Aviation Safety Agency during a transition period.

The Conservative minister dismissed the possibility of Britain crashing out of Brexit talks with absolutely no deal reached, claiming “no deal of any sort” was “completely off the probability scale.”

 

U.K. May Seek Closer Ties With U.S. Drug Overseer After Brexit

Bloomberg, Naomi Kresge, 6 November 2017

 

If the U.K. can’t reach an accord regarding new drug approvals by the European medicines regulator following Brexit, the government may consider looking to the U.S. for support.

“That is not our desired outcome,” James O’Shaughnessy, a Conservative lawmaker in the upper house of Parliament, said at the Bio-Europe conference in Berlin on Monday. The U.K. wants to continue to benefit from its relationship with the European Medicines Agency, he said. But “there are approvals being made by other stringent regulators.”

At issue is the question of whether the U.K. can avoid the expense and challenges involved in taking over the task of reviewing and approving hundreds of drugs for use in the country once it leaves the European Union in March 2019. Pharmaceutical industry executives have advocated reaching a pact that would essentially allow for mutual recognition of new medicines between the EMA and the national drug agency, thereby eliminating the need to replicate processes and reducing costs for drugmakers.

Without such a deal, companies may opt to introduce new drugs in the U.K., home to about 66 million people, only after they’ve tapped the U.S., continental Europe and other, bigger markets. The EMA — which oversees medicines for about 500 million people in the region — is poised to move away from its current London headquarters and end its oversight of the U.K. market after Brexit.

“The regulatory situation is a good example of the absurdity of the situation we are in,” John Haurum, chief executive officer of U.K. biotech F-Star GmbH, said during the panel. The best-case scenario would be that the U.K. simply decides to follow the EMA, essentially maintaining the status quo, he said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is sometimes faster than the EMA in approving new medicines, and new Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is seeking to speed up the process even further.

HDA UK Media And Political Bulletin – 8 November 2017

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