The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is to be relocated from London to Amsterdam after Brexit, it has been announced.

Alongside the European Banking Agency, the EMA is one of two key EU regulators which are to move away from London’s Canary Wharf, where they currently employ around 1,000 staff.

The Dutch city of Amsterdam won a battle to host the EMA against a field including Athens, Barcelona, Bonn, Bratislava, Brussels, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Helsinki, Lille, Milan, Porto, Sofia, Stockholm, Malta, Vienna, Warsaw and Zagreb.

Ministers from the 27 other EU members voted at a meeting in Brussels on which cities should become the agencies’ new homes.

The chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Mike Thompson, said: “Congratulations to Amsterdam on their successful bid.

“Hosting the EMA is a singular honour for any city and we will do all we can to support the agency’s smooth transition to its new home.”

Mr Thompson added: “Today’s decision marks the moment when attention should switch to how patient safety and effective public health can be maintained during this complex transition and into the future.

“We now urge both the UK and the EU to put patients first and acknowledge that securing a comprehensive agreement to co-operate on medicines safety, regulation and supply is an urgent negotiating priority.”

Under the terms of the contest to provide a new home for the regulators lost by the UK, it was decided that the EMA and EBA could not both be relocated to the same country.

Each bid was assessed on factors of accessibility; schools for the children of staff; healthcare and access to work for spouses; business continuity; geographical spread; and the assurance that the agency can be operational in its new home when the UK leaves the EU.

Success in the competition will provide a boost to the economy and political prestige of both Amsterdam and the winning city in the EBA contest.

European Council President Donald Tusk said that the “real winner” from the relocation decision was the 27 states who will remain in the EU after Britain has left.

Aisling Burnand, chief executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities, called for reassurances that the move to Amsterdam will not have “adverse effects on patients in the UK and EU”.

She said: “This is best achieved by ensuring an orderly transition. Patients must not get slower access to new drugs and treatments as a result of this move.”

John Hardy, Professor of Neuroscience at University College London, said: “This is just another unforeseen – by the politicians – consequence of Brexit.

“Of itself, it is bad enough news – many highly skilled jobs moving out of the country. But a greater impact will be the tug this exerts on the pharmaceutical companies as they weigh up where to make their clinical research investments.

“Over time, this is likely to lead to a disinvestment in the UK of pharmaceutical industry jobs and this has been a major source of revenue and employment for the UK.”