European Group on Ethics: Commission answers parliamentary questions

May 20, 2002

Strasbourg, 17 May 2002

Verbatim proceedings of Parliament, 16 May 2002, Part 1.

Question no 75 by David Robert Bowe (H-03/02)
Subject: Work of the European Group on Ethics
How important does the Commission consider the role of the European Group on Ethics in the monitoring and oversight of implementation of Directives 98/44/EC and 2001/8/EC? Will this be a central feature of the work plan and if not, why not?

Question no 76 by Glyn Ford (H-0328/02)
Subject: Work of the European Group on Ethics
Following the appointment of a new President of the European Group on Ethics, how quickly will a new work plan be presented by the group?

Question no 77 by Eryl Margaret McNally (H-0329/02)
Subject: Work of the European Group on Ethics
Will the Commission confirm that any new President of the European Group on Ethics will be appointed on the basis of both their technical expertise and personal independence of view in a transparent selection process?

Question no 78 by Neena Gill (H-033 /02)
Subject: Work of the European Group on Ethics
Following the resignation of Madame Noëlle Lenoir from her post as President of the European Group on Ethics, will the Commission confirm that it will act quickly to appoint a President as soon as possible and if so, when?

Answer
Following the resignation of Mrs Noëlle Lenoir, chairman of the European Group on Ethics (EGE), and of Mr Spiros Simitis, member of the Group, the Commission will appoint two new members, so as to ensure that the Group remains independent, multidisciplinary and pluralist, characterised by a high level of expertise in various disciplines.

Once these nominations are made by the President of the Commission, in agreement with the College, and then, the twelve members of the EGE will elect their chairman, according to the mandate of the Group adopted by the Commission on April 24, 2001.

The work plan for the coming months has already been set up by the Group. After finalisation of its opinion n° 1 6 on the ethical aspects of patenting inventions involving human stem cells, the Group will address the following issues:
- ethical aspects of clinical trials in developing countries;
- ethical aspects of umbilical cord blood banks;
- ethical aspects of genetic tests at the workplace.

The role of the EGE is to give opinions to the Commission on ethical aspects of new technologies. The Directives

98/44/EC and 2001/8/EC refer to the possibility for the Commission to consult the Group on ethical questions. In the case of Directive 2001/8/EC , consultation is possible with a view to obtaining its advice on the ethical implications of biotechnology or on ethical issues of a general nature.

The request made in October 2000 by President Prodi to the Group to give an opinion on the ethical aspects of patenting human stem cells, according to Article 7 of the 98/44/EC Directive, is an example of the importance given to the role of the Group.

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