Statement of the Executive Committee of COMECE
on the occasion of the Competitiveness Council and the vote in the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee on the 7th Research Framework Programme on 30 May 2006 in Brussels
The Executive Committee of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) takes note of the ongoing negotiations about the 7th Research Framework Programme in the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
On the occasion of the Competitiveness Council on 30 May in Brussels, the Ministers discussed the budgetary aspects of the Framework Programme and reached an agreement on a general approach on the 7th framework programme. They did not officially address the outstanding issue of EU-funding for research implying the destruction of human embryos and the use of human embryonic stem cells. According to the European Commission’s proposals for the specific research programmes, this research could be financed by the EU in those countries where such research is permitted. Yet, such research raises fundamental ethical and anthropological concerns.
The European Parliament is in the process of defining its position on the Framework Programme and the ethical implications. On 30 May, the European Parliament’s Committee for Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) voted on amendments to the Commission’s proposal on the Framework Programme. It adopted an amendment proposing to explicitly allow EU funding for research with human embryonic stem cells; whilst excluding from EU funding research activities intended to create human embryos solely for the purpose of research, EU funding of research using and destroying so-called supernumerary human embryos would not be excluded. By contrast, the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) of the European Parliament, in its vote on 4 May, proposed that the use and creation of human embryos and of embryonic stem cells for purposes of scientific research should not be financed under the Framework Programme. We note that the ITRE Committee is responsible for the Research Programmes as a whole, whilst the JURI Committee, according to Annex VI of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament is responsible for the ethical questions related to new technologies.
Recalling the statement on “EU Research Funding and Ethics”, adopted by the COMECE plenary in November 2005, we reiterate our objection to EU-funding of research implying the destruction of human embryos. Treating the human embryo as an object for research is not compatible with human dignity. The EU should concentrate its joint research efforts on the many other promising areas of research, also in other kinds of stem cell research, which offer promise. By taking such a decision the EU would show that it respects the fundamental values and grounds upon which some member states prohibit or restrict this research out of respect for the inviolability of human life and its dignity.
+ Adrianus van Luyn
Bishop of Rotterdam
Archbishop of Dublin
+ Piotr Jarecki
Auxiliary Bishop of Warsaw