|Author (Person)||Banks, Martin|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.11, No.40, 10.11.05|
By Martin Banks
The composition of the European Commission's key advisory body on ethics in science and medicine has been branded "completely unbalanced" by senior Socialist MEPs.
The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) comprises 15 experts from EU member states, including lawyers, scientists and philosophers.
Created in 1992, the body provides independent advice to the Commission on ethics in science and new technologies.
It has no formal regulatory powers but its opinion plays an influential part in the drafting of EU legislation and policies.
Its membership has recently been increased from 12 to 15 and the newly constituted body includes nine new members who were personally appointed by Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
Some Socialist MEPs have, however, demanded that Barroso reconsiders the choice of nominees, saying there are too many people from similar centre-right backgrounds, who largely hold traditional, conservative views on controversial issues such as stem-cell research and genetically modified crops - two issues which are likely to figure in its early work programme.
German MEP and leader of the Socialist group Martin Schulz said the make-up of the EGE was "completely unbalanced".
In a separate development, the centre-right Italian MEP Giuseppe Gargani, chairman of the European Parliament's legal affairs committee, has been condemned by the assembly's Socialist group for submitting to Barroso a list of people he believed should sit on the EGE.
Three of his four recommendations were eventually chosen and the Socialists have accused him of "partisanship" and acting without the authority of his committee. Schulz said Gargani's list did not represent Parliament's views and was characterised by people who hold "deeply conservative" views.
Austrian MEP Maria Berger, Socialist co-ordinator on the legal affairs committee, said: "I share these concerns about the composition of the group. It is important that you get the right balance, particularly when you are dealing with sensitive issues such as stem-cell research."
Dr Michael Rogers, a physicist and head of the EGE secretariat, dismissed the criticism, saying: "The group is composed of a broad mix and highly-qualified experts from member states." The Commission, he said, had gone to great lengths to ensure it was balanced.
German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, chairman of the Parliament's working group on bio-ethics, welcomed Barroso's nominations. He said: "Up to now, the EGE has been unbalanced. Most of its members supported a relatively unlimited freedom of research, particularly on the patenting of human embryonic stem cells."
He said the group contained people known for largely liberal views, including its chairman, the Swedish medical ethicist Göran Hermerén, Dutch member, Inez de Beaufort, Pere Puigdomenech Rosell, from Spain, Danish member Linda Nielsen and the UK representative, Julian Kinderlerer.
This group was balanced, he said, by the inclusion of people who were more likely to put the emphasis on the risks and limits of research such as Italian lawyer Carlo Casini, pharmacologist Jozef Glasa, from Bratislava, German theologian Hille Haker and Emanuel Agius, from Malta.
Other members include lawyer Paula Martinho da Silva, a member of the Portuguese bio-ethics committee, and Hungarian scientist Diána Bánáti.
Liese added: "When these very different personalities in future agree on a common proposal, one can assume that the proposal is sustainable which was unfortunately not the case in previous years."
Gargani was unavailable for comment this week.
Article reports that the composition of the European Commission's key advisory body on ethics in science and medicine was branded 'completely unbalanced' by senior Socialist MEPs. The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) comprised 15 experts from EU member states, including lawyers, scientists and philosophers. Its membership had recently been increased from 12 to 15 and the newly constituted body included nine new members who had been personally appointed by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
|Subject Categories||Culture, Education and Research, Values and Beliefs|
|Countries / Regions||Europe|