THE EUROPEAN GROUP ON ETHICS

IN SCIENCE AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Rafael Capurro
 
 
 
 
    Contribution to the French-German Colloquium: "Für europäische Grundwerte in der Bioethik" organized by the Fondation Robert Schuman and the Berlin-Brandenburgischen Institut für Deutsch-Französische Zusammenarbeit in Europa e.V. (BBI), Schloß Genshagen (Berlin), January 11-13, 2002. Published in: Claude Debru, Charles Galperin, Philippe Meyer (Eds.): Für Europäische Grundwerte in der Bioethik. Pour une bioéthique européenne. Annales d'histoire et de philosophie du vivant. Paris: Le Seuil 2002, 123-128. Last update: June 2004.
 

 

Content

Introduction 
Remit of the EGE 
Activities 
Publications 
 

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Introduction

The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologie (EGE) is an independent, pluralist and multidisciplinary body which advises the European Commission on ethical aspects of science and new technologies in connection with the preparation and implementation of Community legislation or policies.  

In December 1997 the European Commission set up the European Group on Ethics to succeed the Group of Advisers on the Ethical Implications of Biotechnology (GAEIB 1991-1997). During its first mandate the EGE (1998-2000) provided Opinions on subjects as diverse as human tissue banking, human embryo research, personal health data in the information society, doping in sport and human stem cell research. At a specific request of the President of the Commission, Romano Prodi, the Group also wrote the "Report on the Charter on Fundamental Rights" related to technological innovation.  

The Group has twelve members. They are appointed by the European Commission (Press release of 24 April 2001) for their competence and personal qualities. They come from different countries and are experts in disciplines such as biology and genetics, medicine, informatics, law, philosophy or theology.  

The Commission has appointed the twelve Members for the period 2001-2004 and amended the EGE remit in order to strengthen the role of the Group: 

1. Prof. Göran HERMERÉN (Sweden), President, Philosopher, Professor of Medical Ethics, Faculty of medicine, Lund University 
2. Prof. Linda NIELSEN (Denmark), Vice-President, Professor of Law, Rector of the University of Copenhagen 
3. Prof. Nicos C. ALIVIZATOS (Greece), Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Athens 
4. Prof. Rafael CAPURRO (Germany), Professor of Information Management and Information Ethics at Fachhochschule Stuttgart, Hochschule der Medien, University of Applied Sciences 
5. Prof. Inez DE BEAUFORT (The Netherlands), Professor of Health Care Ethics at the Medical Faculty of the Erasmus University, Rotterdam 
6. Prof. Yvon ENGLERT (Belgium), Head of Fertility Clinic, Free University of Brussels (ULB), Professor of Medical Ethics and Deontology, ULB 
7. Prof. Catherine LABRUSSE-RIOU (France), Centre de recherche en droit privé, Université de Paris. 
8. Dr. Anne McLAREN (United Kingdom), Geneticist, Research Associate at Wellcome CRC Institute, Cambridge 
9. Prof. Pere PUIGDOMÈNECH ROSELL (Spain), Research Professor at the Department for Molecular Genetics, Director of Institut de Biologia Molecular de Barcelona, CSIC 
10. Prof. Stefano RODOTA (Italy), Professor of Civil Law, University of Rome, Chairman of the Italian Data Protection Authority, Chairman of the European Group of the Data Protection Authorities 
11. Prof. Günter VIRT (Austria), Professor of Theology, Institute of Catholic Moral Theology, University of Vienna 
12. Prof. Peter WHITTAKER (Ireland), Biologist, Professor of Biology, Institute of Environment, Philosophy and Public Policy, University of Lancaster, Furness College 

Secretariat of the EGE 
European Commission,  200 rue de la Loi (Brey 10/128), B-1049 Brussels. 
EGE-Website: europa.eu.int/comm/european_group_ethics 
EGE-Newsletter "Ethically Speaking": providing information on the activities of the National Ethics Committees. 
 

Remit of the EGE 

1. Purpose: The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, hereafter the “Group”, shall act within the scope of the following remit.  

2. Remit and request for opinions: The task of the Group shall be to advise the Commission on all ethical questions relating to sciences and new technologies, either at the request of the Commission or on its own initiative. The Parliament and the Council may draw the Commission's attention to questions which they consider of major ethical importance. The Commission shall, when seeking the opinion of the Group, set a time limit within which such opinion shall be given. 

3. Composition: The Group shall have twelve members appointed for their expertise and personal qualities. It shall be independent, pluralist and multidisciplinary. 

4. Appointment: The members of the Group shall be appointed by the Commission. 

5. Term of office: Each member of the Group shall be appointed for a term of four years. This term shall be renewable once. A member who resigns before completion of the term of office shall be replaced for the remainder of the term in accordance with the procedure laid down in Point 4. 

6. Reimbursement of expenses: Travel and subsistence expenses for the Group’s meetings shall be covered by the Commission in accordance with the relevant administrative rules. 

7. Chair: The Group shall elect a chairperson and a vice-chairperson from among its members for the duration of the term of office. 

8. Secretariat: The Secretariat-General of the Commission, acting in close cooperation with the Group’s chairperson, shall be responsible for organising the work of the Group and its secretariat. 

9. Working methods: The Group’s regular working meetings shall not be open to the public. For the purposes of preparing its Opinions and within the limits of the available resources for this action, the Group: 
- may invite experts either from a Member State of the Union or from outside to take part in its proceedings on a given topic on the agenda.  
- may initiate studies in order to collect all necessary scientific and technical information 
- may set up working groups to consider specific issues 
- may organize public Round Tables in order to promote dialogue and improve transparency 
- may establish closer links with representatives of the various ethics bodies which exist in the European Union and in the applicant countries. 

10. Opinions: Every opinion shall be published immediately after its adoption. Where an opinion is not adopted unanimously, it shall include any dissenting point of view. 

11. Rules of Procedure: The Group shall adopt its Rules of Procedure. 

12. Activity report: A report on the Group’s activities shall be produced under the responsibility of the chairperson before the end of its term of office. The report shall be published. 

13. Replacement of previous text: This text describing the remit of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies shall replace the remit annexed to the Communication to the Commission of 12 December 1997 on the establishment of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (SEC(97)2404). 
 

Secretariat of the EGE 
European Commission,  200 rue de la Loi (Brey 10/128), B-1049 Brussels. 
EGE-Website: europa.eu.int/comm/european_group_ethics 
EGE-Newsletter "Ethically Speaking": providing information on the activities of the National Ethics Committees. 
 

Activities

The Group nominated in April 2001 held its first meeting on 29 May 2001 in Brussels. In his welcome message President Prodi requested the Group to give two opinions: 
- an Opinion (n. 16) on the ethical aspects of patents resulting from research into stem cells, 
- an Opinion (n.17) on the ethical aspects of clinical research in developing countries.  

On June 11-12, 2001 the Group participated at the conference: "Ethics and Biomedical Research" (Umea, Sweden), organised by the Swedish Presidency.  

In preparation of the Opinion n. 16 the Group organised on November 20, 2001 in Brussels, a round-table debate on the ethical aspects of patenting inventions involving human stem cells in order to discuss the topic with scientific experts, lawyers, philosophers, as well as representatives from the European Parliament, international organisations, representatives of patients, industry, religions, and other interested parties. 

In preparation of the Opinion n. 17 the Group participated at the conference "European African partnership on clinical trials programme for poverty related diseases"  on April 19-20, 2002 (Barcelona, Spain) as well as at meetings with members of Spanish Parliament and of Spanish working groups on bioethics. 
 

Publications

OPINIONS

GAEIB 1993-1997 

n. 1: The ethical implications of the use of performance-enhancers in agriculture and fisheries (12/03/1993) 
n. 2: Products derived from human blood or human plasma (12/03/1993) 
n. 3: Opinion on ethical questions arising from the Commission proposal for a Council directive for legal protection of biotechnological inventions (30/09/1993) 
n. 4: The ethical implications of gene therapy (13/12/1994) 
n. 5: Ethical aspects of the labelling of the food derived from modern biotechnology (05/05/1995) 
n. 6: Ethical aspects of prenatal diagnosis (20/02/1996) 
n. 7: Ethical aspects of genetic modification of animals (21/05/1996) 
n. 8: Ethical aspects of patenting inventions involving elements of human origin (25/09/1996) 
n. 9: Ethical aspects of cloning techniques (28/05/1997) 
n. 10: Ethical aspects of the 5th Research Framework Programme (11/12/1997) 


EGE 1998-2004  OPINIONS 2002 - 2004: full text

n. 11: Ethical aspects of human tissue banking (21/07/1998)
n. 12: Ethical aspects of research involving the use of human embryo in the context of the 5th framework programme (23/11/1998)
n. 13: Ethical issues of healthcare in the information society (30/07/1999)
n. 14: Ethical aspects arising from doping in sport (14/11/1999)
n. 15: Ethical aspects of human stem cell research and use (14/11/2000)
n. 16: Ethical aspects of patenting inventions involving human stem cells (07/05/2002)
n. 17: Ethical aspects of clinical research in developing countries (04/02/2003)
n. 18: Ethical aspects of genetic testing in the workplace (17/09/2003)
n. 19: Ethical aspects of cord blood stem cells banks (20/04/2004)
n. 20: Ethical Aspects of ICT implants in the human body (in prep.)

PROCEEDINGS 
Genetic testing in the workplace. Round Table Debate, Brussels, 6 March 2000. 

REPORTS  
23/05/2000 Citizens Rights and New Technologies: A European Challenge. Report on the Charter on fundamental rights related to technological innovation requested by President of the Commission, Romano Prodi. 

GENERAL REPORT on the activities of the EGE 1998-2000 (Paper version, free of charge, available upon request). 
 

EGE 2001-2004
OPINIONS 2001 - 2004 (full text) 

n. 16: Ethical aspects of patenting inventions involving human stem cells (07/05/2002)
n. 17: Ethical aspects of clinical research in developing countries (04/02/2003)
n. 18: Ethical aspects of genetic testing in the workplace (17/09/2003)
n. 19: Ethical aspects of cord blood stem cells banks (20/04/2004)

PROCEEDINGS  

The ethical aspects of biomedical research in developing countries. Round Table Debate, Brussels, October 1st, 2002

STATEMENTS 

Statement n.1: On Advertising Genetic Tests via the Internet (24/2/2003) 
 

 
 
    
Copyright © 2003 by Rafael Capurro, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. and international copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the author is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author.
 
 
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