The Brussels Capital Region has launched a major campaign to attract UK-based pharmaceutical and life sciences organisations after Brexit.

Pharmaceutical businesses based in the British region will require a new European base for their operations, once the UK has left the EU.

Brussels will host an event on 19 March targeting these businesses, providing attendees with an insight into the Belgian capital and the benefits of being based both in London and Brussels.

The event will also offer an opportunity for the attendees to meet industry trade bodies.

This initiative has secured support from the Brussels’ regional government and regional trade associations, plus industry bodies.

Brussels Capital Region State for Foreign Trade Secretary Cécile Jodogne said: “With increasing uncertainty on what the final relationship will look like, we have extended our programme of events with an additional one on 19 March 2019 focusing entirely on those British and international pharmaceutical and life sciences businesses looking for certainty.

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“The only way to guarantee this is to establish a base of operations within the EU and, as the Brexit deadline bears down upon us, there are multiple reasons why businesses should act now to guarantee this presence in the EU.”

“As the Brexit deadline bears down upon us, there are multiple reasons why businesses should act now to guarantee their presence in the EU.”

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) was one of the first UK-based regulators to leave, leading to the loss of 900 jobs. The EMA evaluates medicines across the EU but had to relocate to Amsterdam as regulation must be done in a member state.

Jodogne added: “Every year over 500 clinical trial applications are submitted by the biopharmaceutical industry in Belgium. Applications are being processed and approved quickly before over 170,000 patients participate in Phase II and III trials.

“This is especially important as getting recognition for your medicine or medical technology by one European agency, means it’s recognised across Europe.”

Brussels’ campaign comes amid rising uncertainty around the UK leaving the EU with a formal agreement.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal plan was initially rejected by the parliament by a margin of 230 votes on 15 January, increasing concerns among the UK and European pharma industry.

The withdrawal deal was again rejected on 12 March by a majority of 149 votes. The MPs are now set to vote on whether the UK should leave without a deal and, if that is approved, on whether Brexit should be delayed.