No agreement was reached at the Competitiveness Council on December 3 on the Commission's amended proposal for guidelines to govern human embryonic stem cell research within the Sixth Framework Programme, or on the alternative proposal put forward by the Italian Presidency. It was apparent from the Council's consideration of these options that there was little, if any, hope of arriving at a set of guidelines, which would have sufficient support to ensure acceptance by the Council.
Given this situation, responsibility now rests with the Commission to examine such proposals it may receive for research into stem cells acquired from human embryos, bearing in mind the provisions of the established regulatory procedure, which governs research in this area. Under this procedure, in accordance with the relevant Council decision of 28 June 1999, the Commission refers proposals for projects to the Council if there is no agreement in the programme committee tasked with examining them in the first instance. The Council may, by qualified majority reject such proposals.