Friday

26th May 2017

Commission rejects citizens' campaign to ban stem cell funding

The European Commission has dismissed a campaign to scrap funding for stem cell research and reproductive health services.

The demand was made by the 'One of Us' campaign, the second citizens' initiative to reach the 1 million signatures required under the Lisbon treaty.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The 'One of Us' citizens' campaign sought to end EU funding for stem cell research (Photo: BWJones)

The campaign, which has been backed by Popes Francis and Benedict, the current and former heads of the Catholic church, and backed by a number of religious organisations, sought to ban the use of EU funds for research, foreign aid programmes and public health activities that are linked to the destruction of human embryos.

€120 million in EU development aid is spent each year on maternal and reproductive healthcare, while the EU provided funding worth €156.7 million to stem cell research projects between 2007 and 2013.

However, in a statement on Wednesday (28 May), EU research commissioner Marie Geoghegan-Quinn ruled out any policy change by the EU executive.

"We have engaged with this Citizens' Initiative and given its request all due consideration," she said.

"However, Member States and the European Parliament agreed to continue funding research in this area for a reason. Embryonic stem cells are unique and offer the potential for life-saving treatments."

Meanwhile, Andris Piebalgs, the bloc's development commissioner, added that the 'One of Us' proposal would undermine the EU's efforts to meet the target to reduce maternal mortality and achieve universal access to reproductive health including in the Millennium Development Goals.

"Our development programmes…aim to expand access to effective family-planning services, therefore preventing the need for abortions," he added.

"The Commission’s response has taken into account the devastating impact that “One of Us” could have had on the EU’s development objectives,” said Neil Datta, Secretary of the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development.

For its part, the 'One of Us' campaign accused the Commission of taking "a decision contrary to ethical and democratic requirements". It also promised to appeal the Commission's decision to the EU's highest court, European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

With nearly 2 million signatories, the 'One of Us' campaign is the best supported initiative so far. Some 600,000 signatories came from Italy, followed by 250,000 from Poland, with the campaign reaching the required quorum of signatures from 20 of the EU's 28 countries.

Introduced in 2012, the European Citizens' Initiative lets 1 million or more EU citizens task the commission with consideration of new laws.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.

Investigation

Fight Club: Russische Spione suchen EU-Rekruten

Sicherheitsexperten warnen, dass russische Geheimdienste Kampfsportvereine nutzen, um potenzielle Unruhestifter in Deutschland und anderen EU-Ländern zu rekrutieren.

EUobserved

Scramble for UK agencies paves way for Trumpian claims

The Spanish health minister this week bragged that Barcelona was “the best city”, had “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure” to host the EU's medicines agency post-Brexit.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.

EUobserved

Scramble for UK agencies paves way for Trumpian claims

The Spanish health minister this week bragged that Barcelona was “the best city”, had “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure” to host the EU's medicines agency post-Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms