Opinion on the Ethical Aspects of the 5th Research Framework
Programme, Group of Advisers on the Ethical Implications of Biotechnology
of the European Commission, Opinion No. 10, (Dec. 11, 1997).
Requested by the Commission on 24 February 1997.
Rapporteurs: Professor Luis Archer and Professor Gilbert Hottois.
Research at Community level is conducted within the frame of the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development which lay down guidelines with regard to granting Community funds.
The proposal for a European Parliament and Council Decision concerning the 5th Framework Programme (1998 - 2002) foresees that all research activities conducted and financed through Community funds shall be in compliance with "fundamental ethical principles" (Art. 6). In order to take account of this new provision, the Commission requested an Opinion from GAEIB on a way to include an ethical dimension in the future 5th Framework Programme and, above all, on a way to interpret the above-mentioned Art. 6.
Fundamental principles shall be respected when:
- giving priority to research projects (e.g. research in the field of rare diseases);
- evaluating research projects that shall be financed through Community funds;
- promoting ethical considerations at a European level.
The objective is to develop ethical rules for Community research while respecting national particularities and competences.
"[...] Thus, bioethics research and research ethics are complementary. [...] ... it is for the Commission to submit the research projects that it finances to certain requirements and to an ethical evaluation. [...] Differences in approach among national legislations cannot a priori be grounds for excluding such research from the 5th Framework Programme. [...] ... the ethical assessment concerns all research, whether it involves human beings, animals or plants. [...] ... the fundamental ethical principles applicable are those recognized in international texts. [...] Research involving transgenesis and/or the cloning of animals calls for a particularly high level of ethical vigilance. [...] Research ethics should oblige researchers to abide by a code of conduct ... both with regard to defining and conducting research projects and in relation to the presentation and interpretation of the results of research. [...] Research in bioethics ... should continue to be encouragted at Community level. [...] Information and education ...should be expanded [...]."