Is the EU “ethical”?

image001What is the rule of ethics in the EU’s law-making process? This question will be discussed on 3 February at an event hosted by the EPP Group on Bioethics at the premises of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Observers are well aware that many law-makers, and in particular the European Commission, view ethics as something to tick off on their check-list, i.e. merely as an obstacle on the path towards new legislation. The result can be seen for example in the Commission’s response to the pro-life citizens’ initiative ONE OF US, in which it claimed to apply a high standard of ethical criteria when granting EU funds to research projects on human embryonic stem-cells. And what was this “high ethical standard”? It basically consisted in saying that the EU would not fund any project that is illegal in all EU Member States, or in the state where it is carried out. In other words, not contravening criminal law is sufficient for the Commission to claim that “high ethical standards” are met. N.B., this could also apply in which the research project at question would be illegal in 27 of 28 Member States, with the exception of the one Member State where it is carried out.