EU agency offers free holidays in Amsterdam to help sway staff move

People skate on the ice at the frozen canal “Prinsengracht” in Amsterdam on March 2, 2018 | Evert Elzinga/AFP via Getty Images

EU agency offers free holidays in Amsterdam to help sway staff move

European Medicines Agency’s Brexit point-man says staff retention is looking up.


12/5/18, 3:55 PM CET

Updated 12/6/18, 5:36 AM CET

LONDON — The European Medicines Agency is sending staff on holiday to the Netherlands to persuade them what a great place it will be to live.

The agency, which is relocating from London to Amsterdam in March because of Brexit, is covering the cost of a two-night trip for staff and their partners — plus a guided tour of neighborhoods — to help employees decide if they could plant roots there.

Noël Wathion, the EMA’s Brexit lead, said in an interview Wednesday that while he could not quantify the impact of the visits, the EMA believes they are proving “very useful” as it attempts to keep staff on board.

“It’s a short visit but nevertheless it shows you [what the Netherlands is like to live in],” Wathion said. The agency is also offering free Dutch language lessons for EMA staff, their partners and children.

The number of staff forecast to stay has been on an upward trend since providing these incentives, Wathion said.

Staff are not just moving to Amsterdam but all over the Netherlands, he said, including to Leiden, the Hague and Utrecht.

The latest estimates show 24 percent of the EMA’s roughly 900 staff — including shorter-term and longer-term contracts — are forecast to leave, although he said that figure changes daily.

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