Compromise reached on embryonic stem cell research

October 3, 2002

Brussels, 02 Oct 2002

Carlos WESTENDORP Y CABEZA (PES, E), chairman of the Industry Committee, was pleased to announce on Tuesday morning that the Commission, Council and Parliament had reached a compromise agreement on how to deal in future with fundamental ethical questions relating to the 6th Framework Research Programme.

The compromise breaks the deadlock between Parliament and Council on the specific programmes which fall under the 6th Framework Programme. The specific programmes were adopted yesterday by the Competitiveness Council in Brussels.

The conflict between Parliament and Council focused on how to tackle fundamental ethical issues such as embryonic stem cell research and research on supernumerary embryos. Parliament, which had originally wanted to lay down clear ethical guidelines when it adopted the 6th Framework Programme under the co-decision procedure, had been persuaded by the Council to limit these to very broad formulations because of internal disputes within the Council.

Parliament had thus been surprised to learn that the Council now planned to adopt detailed ethical rules under a procedure that left Parliament out of the decision-making process.

The new compromise consists of a number of points. Next spring the Commission will present to the Council and Parliament a report on human embryonic stem cell research which will form the basis for a wide-ranging discussion at an inter-institutional seminar on bioethics. In the light of the seminar's findings the Commission will then submit a proposal to establish further guidelines on principles for deciding on Community funding for research projects using human embryos and human embryonic stem cells. The proposal would be made under Article 166(4) of the Treaty, which stipulates the use of the consultation procedure. The compromise calls for this legislative procedure to be completed by the institutions as early as possible and at the latest by December 2003.

During the short discussion in the committee, Mr Westendorp emphasised that the compromise had secured Parliament's right to be fully involved when the specific rules are laid down. He also said sarcastically that this interinstitutional clash had taught Parliament to be wary and to demand written agreements when negotiating with the Council on an informal basis.

01.10.02 Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy     

 In the chair: Carlos WESTENDORP Y CABEZA (PES, E)

Press enquiries:Leena Maria Linnus - tel. (32-2) 28 42825e-mail:

European Parliament News Report 2002-10-01

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