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Parliament happy with FP6 ethics compromise

Chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on industry, external trade and research, Carlos Westendorp Y Cabeza, has welcomed the compromise deal between the Commission, Council and Parliament on ethical questions relating to the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The compr...

Chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on industry, external trade and research, Carlos Westendorp Y Cabeza, has welcomed the compromise deal between the Commission, Council and Parliament on ethical questions relating to the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The compromise meant that the Competitiveness Council was able to adopt specific programmes for FP6 on 30 September. Difficulties arose over how to address ethical issues such as embryonic stem cell research. Mr Westendorp felt that the Parliament had been left out of the decision making process when the Council planned to adopt detailed ethical rules in order to reassure some Member States, which were hesitant about such research being funded by the EU. Under the new compromise, the Commission will present to the Council and to the Parliament, a report on human embryonic stem cell research, which will form the basis for discussion at an inter-institutional seminar on bioethics. Following the seminar, the Commission will submit a proposal to establish further guidelines for deciding whether or not Community funding should be used to support research projects using human embryos and human embryonic stem cells. The compromise calls for the legislative procedure to be completed as soon as possible, and by December 2003 at the latest. Mr Westendorp emphasised on 1 October that the compromise has secured the Parliament's right to be fully involved when the specific rules are established.