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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 9 Dec 2003

Vol. 576 No. 5

Written Answers. - Research Funding.

John Bruton


149 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment her views on whether it is acceptable that EU funds to which Ireland contributes, be used to fund research on stem cells taken from viable human embryos in a way that involves the death of this embryonic human life; and if she will take account of the decision of the Joint Committee on Enterprise and Employment on this matter. [29640/03]

The funds to which the Deputy's question refers are Community funds. Framework programme funds come from Community resources collected and distributed under the legal framework of the EU Treaties. There is no national co-financing of the Framework programme. The Commission proposal provided that the EU would only support research on supernumerary embryos derived from IVF and no longer required for such purpose. It aimed to establish coherent, consistent and stringent guidelines and safeguards to govern Community funding of research taking place only in those member states where it is legal and deemed ethical. It explicitly respected the differing positions of member states in regard to the legal and ethical acceptability of such research, and included a guarantee that the framework programme would not support embryonic stem cell research where the national legal and regulatory environment forbade it.

I am aware of the views expressed by the Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business, and the scrutiny sub-committee of the Joint Committee on European Affairs on this matter. No agreement was reached at the Competitiveness Council on 3 December on the Commission's amended proposal or on the alternative proposal put forward by the Italian Presidency. This is an unfortunate situation. I consider that, given the extensive discussions which have taken place on this issue and the different options which have now been exhaustively explored, it would appear that there is little likelihood, if any, of reaching agreement on the matter of guidelines for this activity within the Framework Programme.

Question No. 150 answered with Question No. 145.