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Towards a European model of biomedical law?

Final Report Summary - EUROBIOLAW (Towards a European model of biomedical law?)

The EUROBIOLAW project aimed at ascertaining and studying the emergence of a body of biomedical law at the EU level. As it was hypothesized in the initial project, biomedical issues reached the EU's agenda along two main routes: that of fundamental rights and that of economic freedoms. In addition, the EUROBIOLAW project was expected shed an interesting light not only on the legal regulation of biomedical issues but also on normative processes within the EC, for the great diversity of national legislations in a field that does not appear to straightforwardly correspond to EC competences leads the Community to testing new regulatory strategies.

After an initial period of research devoted to gathering the EU norms in the field of biomedicine as well as all the preparatory material, an initial step of the project has been to write a "research agenda" piece that has been published in a leading EU law journal (Revue trimestrielle de droit européen).

The body of EU biomedical law was then first analysed as a tentative European response to the great national diversity in the field, eg. as the search for core common principles. Indeed, as Member States (and national public opinions) are very sensitive to the emergence of regulatory interests at the European level in these matters, the real breadth of diversity needs to be accurately measured and the possibility of common values to be closely examined. This dimension of the project led to theoretical inquiries on the one hand, and comparative ones on the other.
On a theoretical standpoint, I pursued at the European level methods and results that I had already been experiencing with prior research about the French case about the widely acclaimed human dignity principle. The outcome of this reflection on the varying meanings of the human dignity principle is that it might be an inappropriate basis for regulation in the field of biomedical issues, for all that is consensual about it is merely rhetoric and when it comes to substance, disagreement prevails.
On a comparative standpoint, it was part of the EUROBIOLAW project to provide with a clear idea of the actual diversity among EU Member States in the field of biomedical law. This has led to the publication in September 2009 of a book that looks at a series of biomedical issues in a comparative perspective (the definition of life, the notion of consent, reproductive rights, end-of-life issues, cloning and embryonic research and the patenting of living material). Similarly, a piece on the diversity of regulatory methods throughout Europe was published after an analysis of the human embryonic stem cells issue in France.

The EUROBIOLAW project then shifted from the question "what does Europe do to biomedicine" to "what does regulation in the field of biomedicine do to Europe". In other words, it tried to address the question of the the extent to which the regulation of biomedical issues can be said to have an impact on modes of governance. This part of the project has benefited from a strong input of Science and Technology Studies inspired notions and methods, acquired throughout the organization of a methodological workshop on the issue. This has led to the presentation of this field of investigation in several conferences and seminars, and the publication of three papers.