Brussels, 10 Sep 2002
Parliament Committee members are accusing the Council of violating EU Treaties and their co-decision rights by temporarily halting funding for human embryonic stem cell research under FP6.
Scientists hope to one day create cures for diseases like diabetes using human stem cells.
The Chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on industry, external trade, research and energy, emphasised that the embargo (starting in July) on funding human embryonic stem cell and human embryo research conflicts with the compromise agreement reached in June by the Parliament and the Council on the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
Several members of the committee questioned the constitutional legality of the Council decision and proposed that the matter be conferred to the political group coordinators and possibly to Parliament's legal services. At risk is the common position on bio-ethics among Member States, which was the cornerstone of the original compromise between the Council and Parliament for FP6.
The Council's defence
In defence of the Council decision, the Danish Minister for science, technology and innovation said the embargo did not affect the EU's intention to finance this type of research in the long run, but that it gave the Council time to work out more detailed rules for implementation.
The decision states that the Council must establish by 31 December 2003 detailed implementing provisions concerning bio-ethical scrutiny of research activities involving the use of human embryos and human embryonic stem cells. Except in certain specified cases, EU funding of such activities would be postponed until that date. In September 2003, the Council will discuss the issue on the basis of a report by the European Commission.