Compromise on bio-ethics achieves broad support - Final deal within reach on EU’s 6th Research Framework Programme (2002-2006)

八月 1, 2002

Copenhagen, 31 July 2002

The Danish Presidency of the European Union is upbeat that a compromise on bio-ethics will receive broad approval from Member States, thereby paving the way for the Council of Ministers adopting an investment of 17,5 bn € of Community funds into European research and innovation activities over the next four to five years.

At the core of the compromise is the commitment to establish by 31 December 2003 detailed implementing provisions concerning bio-ethical scrutiny of research activities within life science involving the use of human embryos and human embryonic stem cells. Community funding of such activities will be postponed until then, except in certain specified cases. In September 2003 the Council intends to have a discussion on the issue based on a report from the European Commission to Council and the European Parliament. Moreover, no FP6 funding will go to research activities aimed at human reproductive cloning, modification of the genetic heritage of human beings, or the creation of human embryos solely for the purpose of research or stem cell procurement.

With this compromise proposal the Danish Presidency is pursuing its overall objective of reaching the broadest possible final agreement on the Specific Programmes under FP6 and to have them adopted as soon as possible. Their adoption is overdue. The current FP5 expires by the end of the year and implementation of the new framework programme must be thoroughly prepared by both the European Commission and Member States in order to ensure its success. For the same reasons the European Council in Barcelona this Spring asked for the complete legislative package of FP6 to be adopted by mid 2002.

In order to fulfil these obligations and to overcome the extra time lap due to the Summer break in the institutions in Brussels the Presidency has decided to propose to Member States that the Council of Ministers adopts the Specific Programmes following a written procedure in mid August.

The Danish Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Mr. Helge Sander is confident that a formula has finally been found which can bring about broad consensus on the European Community’s RTD Programmes. ‘Creativity in science and technology and genuine innovation in its applications must go hand in hand with due reflection on any challenge it poses to mankind. I would like to think of ‘Freedom under Responsibility’ as the main feature of European efforts in this field. Personally, I cannot think of a stronger basis for a true knowledge-based economy.

Background information

Negotiations on FP6 have been underway in both Council and Parliament since the beginning of 2001 based on proposals from the European Commission. FP6 actions will cover a wide range of scientific and technological themes, such as health, biotechnology, information technology, aeronautics, food, and energy. Mobility among researchers and optimum use of research infrastructure in the Community is another important priority. FP6 is an important instrument in the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA). While activities related to stem cell research are only a very small part of the planned activities of FP6 in quantitative terms, a compromise on this sensitive issue has become a precondition for final adoption of the specific programmes.

Danish Presidency Website

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