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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Europe's drugs regulator has told the EU Commission that Amsterdam is the preferred choice among its staff for its new headquarters, Politico reported on its website.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) warned on Tuesday that it could lose more than 70 percent of its staff, making it unable to function, if politicians pick the wrong new home for the London-based agency after Britain leaves the European Union.
It cited a survey of its around 900 staff, but declined to name the 19 candidate cities.
The European edition of Politico, however, said the survey had shown that Amsterdam was the top choice of EMA staff and the agency had told the Commission it would likely lose the least number of staff if it relocated to the Dutch city.
Politico said Barcelona and Vienna were runners-up in terms of projected staff retention. The EMA sees keeping staff as key to maintaining essential services, such as new drug approval and monitoring side effects, following the planned move from London after Brexit.
An EMA spokeswoman declined to comment.
For the five locations most popular with EMA's staff, retention rates would be 65-81 percent, allowing for approval of new drugs and safety monitoring to largely continue, the regulator said.
But loss of key staff and expertise after a move to any of the lower-ranking cities would start to erode "public trust in the system" as the body would need years to regroup after a move.
Politico said at least nine out of 10 EMA employees would quit rather than relocate to candidate cities Warsaw, Bucharest or Sofia.
Milan, Copenhagen, Athens and Dublin are also among the aspiring host cities, with Milan previously seen as a possible frontrunner.
The European Commission is assessing new locations, but the decision rests with EU leaders who will try to reach a deal at their next summit in October, with a final decision expected a month later.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger, editing by Louise Heavens and Susan Fenton)