Today the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) published its Statement “Values for the future: the role of ethics in European and global governance”. The group suggests that only a profoundly inclusive deliberation on values can ensure a shared, egalitarian and sustainable future making.
The Statement provides important perspectives on the role of ethics in human societies and their governing institutions. Looking at the current crises the global community faces, from the pandemic to climate change and migration, it warns about the increasing pressure on values and fundamental rights. The Statement emphasises how every human intervention in the world is shaped by values – whether consciously or unconsciously, explicitly or implicitly. It brings to light the resulting importance of ethics, a need for a more ambitious and proactive ethics and the close links between ethics and participatory governance and democratic principles.
The role of ethics in institutional settings, for example the mandate of ethics bodies in innovation and research processes, is often limited to reacting to already ongoing developments. Values cannot be conceived as limits to innovation and change; they much rather are their gist and provide a critical guiding compass. The statement points to the importance of recognising, in this context, that values cannot be set by those in power, whether political or economic, but are the outcome of dynamic debate and practice. “Wide deliberation regarding in which societies and in what world we want to live together is key,” the group’s members state.
The EGE welcomes that the European Commission has taken up the challenge of declaring a new push for democracy as one of its priorities. It calls upon it to follow this ambitious goal and recommends to maximise opportunities for public participation in policy making and to engage in the development of a Charter of Democracy of the European Union. In this context, the group’s Statement has already been welcomed as a timely contribution to the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe. It is a legacy statement of the outgoing group, bringing its five-year mandate to a close with a reflection on this momentous period for Europe and the world. It also paves the way for the new EGE, whose establishment is due by September.
The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE)
The EGE is an independent, multi-disciplinary body appointed by the President of the European Commission, which advises on all aspects of Commission policies and legislation where ethical, societal and fundamental rights dimensions intersect with the development of science and new technologies. It was initially established in 1991 by President Jacques Delors. It reports to the President, and to the College of Commissioners as a whole, under the direct responsibility of the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. In the last mandate, the group provided advice on topics such as artificial intelligence (2018), the future of work (2018), COVID-19 and health crises (2020, three deliveries) and genome editing (March 2021).
- Publication date
- 9 June 2021
- Directorate-General for Research and Innovation