EESC Opinion: Amendment specific RTD programmes - Strengthening the European research area

November 3, 2003

Brussels, 29 October 2003

OPINION of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Proposal for a Council Decision amending Decision 2002/834/EC on the specific programme for research, technological development and demonstration: "Integrating and strengthening the European research area" (2002-2006) COM(2003) 390 final - 2003/0151 (CNS)
Full text of Opinion in MS Word file on ESC website

[...] Introduction and point of departure

The Commission proposal deals with the limits that are to apply, under the sixth EU R&D framework programme, to research into the medical and biological potential of human stem cells procured from "supernumerary" (frozen) human embryos.

Life sciences and medicine are key aspects of the sixth framework programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities. The first point of the specific programme covering this thematic area is the application of "life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health", including " somatic gene and cell therapies (in particular stem cell therapies)" and "immunotherapies." The sixth framework programme adopted by the Council and the Parliament provides the legal basis for the Commission proposal.

Community funding of stem cell research using human somatic stem cells and embryonic stem cells from supernumerary human embryos is provided for under research priority (i) Advanced genomics and its applications for health in the section Application of knowledge and technologies in the field of genomics and biotechnology for health. For example, in this section: "Research will focus on:&. development and testing of new preventive and therapeutic tools, such as somatic gene and cell therapies (in particular stem cell therapies, for example those on neurological and neuromuscular disorders) and immunotherapies".

The specific programme adopted by Council on 30 September 2002 allows the funding of research activities involving the use of human embryos and human embryonic stem cells except in three areas:

research activity aiming at human cloning for reproductive purposes (reproductive cloning); research activity intended to modify the genetic heritage of human beings which could make such changes heritable (germline gene therapy); research activities intended to create human embryos solely for the purpose of research or for the purpose of stem cell procurement, including by means of somatic cell nuclear transfer (commonly referred to as therapeutic cloning).

[...]

European Economic and Social Committee

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