Brussels, 08 Oct 2002
STATEMENTS TO THE COUNCIL MINUTES
Following the adoption by the Competitiveness Council of the above mentioned decisions on 30 September 2002 delegations will find below for information the statements which will figure in the Council minutes.
I. Specific programmes "Integrating and strengthening the European Research Area" and "Structuring the European Research Area"
Re: Programme management
(a) The Council and the Commission state that:
The programme committee of each Specific Programme will meet in different configurations according to the nature of issues on the agenda to be discussed.
Regardless of configuration, the committee will always have the competencies of the programme committee as defined in Article 7 of the relevant specific programme decision.
The Commission services will ensure efficiency in the committees' overall work and specific support according to the configuration and agenda of each committee meeting. They will ensure that the agenda of each committee meeting in any configuration will be established in such a way and sufficiently far in advance as to enable Member States' delegations to identify the appropriate representatives for all issues on the agenda of the meeting, and to ensure the presence of appropriate specific expertise taking into account the characteristics of the specific areas involved and covering, as required, in particular:
(i) for the Specific Programme "Integrating and Strengthening the European Research Area":
- Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health;
- Information society technologies;
- Nanotechnologies and nanosciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials and new production processes and devices;
- Aeronautics and space;
- Food quality and safety;
- Sustainable development, global change and ecosystems;
- Citizens and governance in a knowledge-based society.
(ii) for the Specific Programme "Structuring the European Research Area":
- Research and innovation;
- Human resources and mobility;
- Research infrastructures;
- Science and society.
In this context, the agenda of a given meeting should not call upon the specific expertise of more than one of the above themes.
The programme committee for each specific programme will address horizontal draft measures concerning the programme as a whole, including those issues related to overall strategy and coherence.
For the specific programme "Integrating and Strengthening the European Research Area" the committee will also address all horizontal draft measures under the heading "Specific activities covering a wider field of research", as well as the particular draft measures related to "Research in support of policies and anticipating scientific and technological needs", "Horizontal research activities involving SMEs", "Specific measures in support of international co-operation"; and the part on "Strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area", bearing in mind the need to ensure the presence of appropriate specific expertise where relevant.
In the more specific configurations the committee of each programme will address the relevant part of the work programmes and their periodic reviews, including the use of implementation instruments, any subsequent adjustment to their use, the content of the calls for proposals as well as the draft implementing measures concerning the approval of funding of RTD actions within the relevant field.
As for themes encompassing more than one domain, the agenda should be defined in such a way as to ensure, whenever appropriate, both the overall coherence as well as the more specific articulation of themes and expertise. This should apply in particular where calls for proposals and project funding are on the agenda.
The reimbursement of one representative and one expert/adviser, from each Member State, participating in programme committee meetings will be effected from the budget of each respective specific programme in full respect of its budgetary envelope. The reimbursement of the second person (expert/adviser) will not constitute a precedent for committees operating in other fields of Community policy.
(b) The Commission states that:
In order to ensure efficiency and transparency of implementation, it will systematically make available to the Programme Committee comprehensive information covering all the proposals received for RTD actions as well as those eventually funded, regardless of their size.
The Commission will provide the information in a user-friendly form, including whenever possible in electronic form, in time for the Committee to take due account of it, at least two weeks in advance for matters for the committee's opinion and one week for matters for information.
In addition to information periodically made public through the Annual Report under Article 173 of the Treaty, as well as through the monitoring and the 5-year assessment reports, data for each priority or area will be made available during the last quarter of each year that will encompass, in a consolidated presentation, the information regularly supplied to committees on programme implementation and budget execution.
This information will cover all stages, from calls for proposals, through the evaluation of proposed RTD actions, their selection, as well as the signature of contracts and their subsequent implementation.
It will in particular include an overview of each call and for each proposal:
- summary information;
- the evaluation panels' ranking and summary reports; and
- the Commission's intentions as to proposals to be rejected or to be retained for negotiation;
- total budget and requested Community contribution.
The Commission will provide information regularly, and at least annually, on:
- the contracts signed (including partners, areas, content, resources and Member States' participation) and on their major developments, together with - overviews of programme progress and implementation achievements, as well as - the lists of persons having acted as evaluators over the previous period once all decisions have been made on the relevant call.
II. Specific programme "Integrating and strengthening the European Research Area"
1) Re: Article 3, application of ethical principles
The Council and the Commission agree that detailed implementing provisions concerning research activities involving the use of human embryos and human embryonic stem cells which may be funded under the 6th Framework Programme shall be established by 31 December 2003. The Commission states that, during that period and pending establishment of the detailed implementing provisions, it will not propose to fund such research, with the exception of the study of banked or isolated human embryonic stem cells in culture. The Commission will monitor the scientific advances and needs as well as the evolution of international and national legislation, regulations and ethical rules regarding this issue, taking into account also the opinions of the European Group of Advisers on the Ethical Implications of Biotechnology (1991­1997) and the opinions of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New technologies (as from 1998), and report to the European Parliament and the Council by September 2003.
The Council states that it intends to discuss this issue at a meeting in September 2003.
In the review of any subsequent proposal submitted to Council when applying Article 5 of the Decision 1999/468/EC the Commission recalls its statement concerning Article 5 of Decision 1999/468/EC , according to which the Commission, in order to find a balanced solution, will act in such a way as to avoid going against any predominant position which might emerge within the Council against the appropriateness of an implementing measure (cf. OJ C 203, 17.7.1999, p. 1).
The Council notes the intention of the Commission to submit to the programme Committee, established under the specific Research programme "Integrating and strengthening the ERA", procedural modalities concerning research involving the use of human embryos and human embryonic stem cells, in accordance with Article 6, paragraph 3, first indent.
The Council further notes the intention of the Commission to present to Council and Parliament in Spring 2003 a report on human embryonic stem cell research which will form the basis for discussion at an inter-institutional seminar on bioethics.
Taking into account the seminar's outcome, the Commission will submit, based on article 166 (4) of the Treaty, a proposal establishing further guidelines on principles for deciding on the Community funding of research projects involving the use of human embryos and human embryonic stem cells.
The Council and the Commission will do their utmost, counting on the support of the European Parliament, to complete the legislative procedure as early as possible and at the latest in December 2003.
The Council and the Commission expect that the above mentioned seminar will contribute, as suggested by the European Parliament, to a Europe-wide and well-structured discussion process on the ethical issues of modern biotechnology, particularly on human embryonic stem cells, in order to enhance public understanding.
The Council and the Commission note that the ethical acceptability of various research fields is related to the diversity among Member States, and is governed by national law in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. Moreover, the Commission notes that research using human embryos and human embryonic stem cells is allowed in several Member States, but not in others.