Caudron report : the ITRE Committee disregards embryos : 26 October 2002
On 25 October 2001, the Industry, Trade Research and Energy Committee of the European parliament debated the European Union's research programme for period 2002-2006 (Caudron Report). All amendments seeking stronger protection for human embryos were rejected, while amendments worsening the text were adopted. The text now explicitly allows EU funding of :
6th Framework-programme for research : the Council of Ministers of the European Union adopted today a moratorium on researche involving destruction of human embryos
1 October 2002
On 30th Sept 2002, the Council of Ministers of the European Union adopted the specific programmes of the 6th frame-work programme for research 2002-2006 (a total budget of 17,5 millions euros).
The European Commission agreed not to subsidy research involving cell-stems from human embryos, except for research on human stem-cells already available.
A public debate shall be set in spring 2003, followed by a non-binding consultation of the European parliament. The Commission shall then propose guidelines for research projects using human embryos and stem cells following the one-year moratorium. Only Italy opposed the litigious specific programme, the one that included research involving human embryos. Spain, Portugal, Germany and Austria left the blocking minority they formerly formed with Italy. It is legitimate to congratulate the Italian negociator, Minister Guido Possa Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca - Piazzale Kenndy 20, 00153 ROMA (or to fax 0659912100) and to encourage him for his stand.
Germany, Austria and Portugal expressed reservation which called for a renweal and continuation of the moratorium in the same spirit after the fist year (research limited to existing stem-cells). Euro-fam note : The moratorium, initially pushed by the Danish Presidency of the European union, gives the Commission the initiative to organise the dabates, to compile their conclusions and to elaborate from them concrete political guidlines at the end of the moratorium which will then be voted in December 2003 by the Council of Ministers, according to article 166.4 of the EC Treaty.
Attitude of Commissioner Busquin, constant proponent of research involving human embryos, creates a need for organizations fighting such a use, for constant vigilance over the next year and continued pressure over their national govermments and European Parliament, if they want to see the moratorium reconducted, or even permanent renunciation of the European Commission to fund research involving human embryos.
Destruction of embryos : Six EU member states ask for the inclusion of ethical guidelines in the 6th Framework Programme
13 June 2002
Germany, Ireland, Italy, Austria and Portugal issued a declaration on 3rd June asking for the inclusion of ethical guidelines in the 6th framework programme, which sets the European Union's research budget for 2002-2006 and which was recently voted on by the European parliament. In its current version, and according to the interpretation that has been given to it by the European Commission in Brussels, research involving the destruction of human embryos could be financed by the European Union, and therefore by taxpayers from countries which forbid this same research on their soil. The five signatory countries have called for more detailed bioethical guidelines to be elaborated and included in the development of the specific programmes of research covered by the framework programme, "in particular regarding the protection of human dignity and human life in genomics and biotechnology research". Luxembourg issued a separate statement to the same effect.
Following this success, Euro-fam encourages European citizens to continue their efforts to strengthen this statement so that a ban on the funding of research involving the destruction of human beings will be even more explicit. Please take action before 18th June, when this matter will come before the European Union's council of ministers. In particular, France and Spain, which have yet to declare their positions, must be encouraged to sign the statement issued by Germany, Ireland, Italy, Austria and Portugal. Details regarding the 6th Framework Programme on research of the European Union are available on www.euro-fam.org
EU Commission imposes its power on member states
15 May 2002
On 15 May 2002, no ethical amendment was adopted in plenary by the European Parliament. Therefore the Council Common position remains. "All the research activities carried out under the Sixth Framework Programme must be carried out in compliance with fundamental ethical principles."
This has been interpreted by the Commission as follows : "the Commission considers that it is not necessary, at this stage where knowledge is still limited, to ban from exploring the possibilities associated with all the potential sources of stem cells, other than the explicit production of human embryos. This includes the adult stem cells, but also those cells from the blood of the umbilical cord, embryonic stem cells from terminations of pregnancy as well as stem cells resulting from supernumerary human embryos.. This research could therefore be supported (...)In the fields where the Community is formally competent, and this is the case in the field of research, national legislation should not interfere with an action properly taken at the Community level, which would have been decided by the institutional procedure involving the Council and Parliament". (18-04-2002 - EU Commission Common answer).
The European Parliament has confirmed the above Council common position and a conciliation procedure is not requested anymore. This also means that all member states, including Ireland, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Italy and Spain will have to fund destructive embryo research under their participation to the EU funding of the 6th framework programme.
For the first time ever, bypassing EU democratic rules in this field, european research and technological development will be imposed on Member States. This will not be complementing the activities carried out in the Member States (violation of art 164 EC Treaty), it will not be in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity (violation of art. 5 EC Treaty) and it will not be respecting national identities of its Member States anymore. (violation of art. 6 EU Treaty).
Moreover, the Commission states that : "it is the duty of Member States and of the future Member States to draw up regulations in this field. It is the democratic process in each state which will make it possible to determine these regulations." This gives a clear signal to all Member States and applicant countries which may be willing to legislate on this matter.
This situation could have been prevented if the Irish Government had also been willing to join the 10 December 2001 Statement by the German, Italian and Austrian delegations at the EU Council of Ministers, stating that "the following fields of research should not be financed from the 6 EC Framework Research Programme : ? research work on reproductive cloning ; ? research work on germ line therapy ; ? creation of embryos for the purpose of research or for the purpose of stem cell procurement, including cell nuclear transfer ("therapeutic cloning"). (...) Although the proposed rules provide that such work may be done only in those Member States in which it is allowed, until an agreement on the European level has been established, research work on surplus embryos should not be financed under the 6th EC Framework Programme."
This would have created a blocking minority which could have stopped this very frightening outcome. From now on, one can wonder what could avoid the fulfillment of the rapporteur's wishes : last year, after the first reading, M. Caudron released that more than 300 millions euros would soon be available for european research on human embryos deriving from miscarriages, abortions, or so-called "surplus" embryos.
M. Gérard CAUDRON
France : Socialiste Indépendant
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