What is the EGE?
The EGE provides the Commission with high quality, independent advice on all aspects of EU legislation and policies, where ethical, societal and fundamental rights issues intersect with the development of science and new technologies.
The EGE is an independent advisory body of the President of the European Commission. It was founded in 1991.
The group's legal mandate is enshrined in Commission Decision (2021/156).
The EGE reports to the President of the European Commission and to the College of Commissioners as a whole.
In addition to its mobilisation on COVID-19, the EGE is working on the topics of genome editing, artificial intelligence and the future of work.
The new Group was appointed by President von der Leyen on 26 January 2022.
The work of the EGE
The EGE is tasked with integrating ethics at
- international level
- at inter-institutional level with the European Parliament and the Council
- within the Commission itself
EGE members are appointed for their expertise in the fields of law, natural and social sciences, philosophy and ethics.
This ensures an independent, inter-disciplinary perspective on the ethical questions posed by scientific and technological innovation.
The EGE acts as a key reference point for the 27 National Ethics Councils in the EU and further afield within the international ethics framework.
Opinion on “Democracy in the digital age”
Recent years have seen profound challenges to democracy, including grave populist and autocratic shifts. In this context, the EGE was requested by President von der Leyen to provide advice on the matter in the context of the Commission’s efforts to address challenges to democracy and to foster it. In the Opinion, the group examines how certain configurations of digital technologies can contribute to a weakening of democratic institutions, even if they may not be its sole cause. Among these are the spread of harmful information, an unduly narrow understanding of privacy, algorithmic surveillance, manipulation and discrimination, foreign interference, and the expansion of Big Tech into public sectors. The EGE warns that democracy can quickly become an empty shell if it is not underpinned by fundamental rights and the values it seeks to protect and promote.
Statement “Values in times of crisis: Strategic crisis management in the EU”
Values play an important role in how we understand, make sense of, and tackle crises. They influence how we frame the problems that crisis management is supposed to address, and how we choose the instruments for that. In this Statement, the EGE points to the importance of human dignity and solidarity being at the core of crisis management, with processes of deliberation that make values explicit. It shows how public, common and individual interests are intertwined; it outlines how values should direct the prioritisation of scarce resources; and it highlights the importance of data, good communication, and public trust. From these considerations the EGE draws a set of recommendations for policy makers and other stakeholders.
Statement “Values for the future: the role of ethics in European and global governance”
In this Statement, the EGE provides important perspectives on the role of values in Europe and the global community. It proposes a central and proactive involvement of ethics in governance. The Statement brings to light the connections between ethics and fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law, concluding with a recommendation for the EU to maximise opportunities for public participation in policy making. It was published on 9 June 2021 and contributes to the deliberations of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Opinion on ethics of genome editing
The EGE has published its Opinion on Ethics of Genome Editing on 19 March 2021. It comprises an analysis of the ethical, societal and fundamental rights implications of genome editing applications in humans, animals and plants.
The group calls for a wide-ranging and inclusive societal debate on the issue, for efforts towards joint monitoring and learning with regard to both regulatory and scientific developments, and for international engagement towards global governance.
The Opinion will inform the Commission’s study on new genomic techniques, to be issued at the end of April.
Role of the general secretariat
The general secretariat of the EGE at the European Commission supports the group and it
- provides the general secretariat of the European Commission's International Dialogue on Bioethics and Ethics of Science and New Technologies, a platform bringing together the National Ethics Councils from 97 countries (EU-G20 forum and beyond)
- is in charge of the representation and liaison with the international organisations tasked with the ethics and governance of science and new technologies (UN and its agencies, OECD, Council of Europe)
- chairs and convenes the Inter-service group on Ethics and EU Policies, coordinating Commission activities in the fields of bioethics and ethics of science and new technologies
EGE opinions and statements
Opinions examine the intersections between science and technological advances and broad societal, ethical and fundamental rights issues.
They identify emerging and future developments, examine their implications across a wide spectrum of policy areas and issue recommendations.
Statements allow the EGE to deliver advice quickly and concisely on a given topic, including in response to an immediate policy need identified by the Group or by the Commission.
- News article
Democracy in peril: Commission’s Ethics Group stresses need and ways to deepen democracy in the face of novel risks
Research and innovation news alert: Today, the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), an independent advisory body to the Commission, handed over its Opinion on Democracy in the Digital Age to Commission Vice-President Dubravka Šuica.
- News article
Today, the EGE held a joint meeting with the Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics (Smer) in Stockholm. In their joint statement, issued on this occasion, they highlight the important role of ethics councils, especially in times of converging societal challenges and rapid technological change
- Public debates
- Wednesday 29 March 2023, 09:00 - 11:45 (CEST)
- Online only