Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Official Journal Reference

L 127/17

Legislative Reference

2005/383/EC of 2005-05-11
The task of the 'European group on ethics in science and new technologies' (EGE) is to advise the European Commission on ethical questions relating to sciences and new technologies, either at the request of the Commission or on its own initiative. The Parliament and the Council draw the Commission's attention to questions which they consider to be of major ethical importance. When seeking the opinion of the EGE, the Commission sets a time limit within which an opinion shall be given.


EGE members are appointed by the President of the Commission and must adhere to the following rules:

- members serve in a personal capacity and are asked to advise the Commission independently of any outside influence;
- the EGE is independent, pluralist and multidisciplinary;
- the EGE has a maximum of 15 members;
- each member of the EGE is appointed for a term of four years;
- each appointment may be renewed for a maximum of two additional terms;
- members who are no longer capable of contributing efficiently to the work of the group, or who resign, may be replaced by an alternative member on the basis of a reserve list, for the remaining duration of their mandate;
- the identification and selection of the EGE members are made on the basis of an open call for expressions of interest. Additional applications received through other channels are also taken into consideration in the selection procedure.

The EGE members elect a chairperson and a vice-chairperson from among their members for the duration of the term of office. The EGE work programme was agreed on by the President of the Commission (including ethical reviews suggested by the EGE under their right of self initiative). The Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) of the Commission, acting in close cooperation with the EGE's chairperson, is responsible for organising the work of the EGE and its Secretariat. The EGE's working sessions are private. Outside these working sessions the EGE discusses its work with concerned Commission departments and may invite representatives of Non Governamental Organisations (NGOs) or representative organisations when appropriate for the purpose of exchanging views.

The agenda for the EGE meetings is distributed to relevant Commission services. The EGE normally meets at the Commission's seat according to the modalities and the calendar fixed by the Commission. The EGE meets at least six times during a twelve-month period involving approximately 12 working days per year. Members are expected to attend a minimum of four meetings a year.

For the purposes of preparing its opinions, and within the limits of the available resources for this action, the EGE:
- may invite experts having a specific competence to guide and inform the work of the EGE if this is deemed useful and/or necessary;
- may initiate studies in order to collect all necessary scientific and technical information;
- may set up working groups to consider specific issues;
- will organise a public round table in order to promote dialogue and improve transparency for each opinion that it produces;
- will establish close links with the Commission departments involved in the topic which the group is working on;
- may establish closer links with representatives of the various ethics bodies in the European Union and in the applicant countries.

Every opinion is published immediately after its adoption. Where an opinion is not adopted unanimously, it includes any dissenting point of view, where there is an operational requirement for advice to be given more quickly on a particular subject, short statements are produced, to be followed if necessary by a fuller analysis, while ensuring that transparency is respected as for any other opinion. EGE opinions always refer to the state of the art of the technology at the time the opinion is issued. The EGE may decide to update opinions if it deems it necessary.

The EGE has adopted its own 'Rules of procedure'. A report on the EGE's activities is produced under the responsibility of the chairperson before the end of its term of office. The report shall be published. Travel and subsistence expenses for the EGE's meetings are funded by the Commission according to Commission rules.

Some of the previous opinions that have been published include patenting inventions involving human stem cells, clinical research in developing countries, genetic testing in the workplace, umbilical cord blood banking, and ICT implants in the human body.

Commission Decision of 11 May 2005 on the renewal of the mandate of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies.
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